You may hear lots of phrases down the pub or over at your friends for dinner regarding drinking and driving, such as;
‘I know when I’m over the limit’
‘I just need to take one sip and I’d be over the limit’
‘I’m fine to drive right now’
But what facts are you going off in relation to the legal limit of 35µg per 100ml breath? Whilst the Police use a Breathalyzer to accurately measure your breath alcohol content, most individuals are making choices based on something else entirely: how they feel; the size of their drink; how many units they have consumed.
Here are some facts to consider before you try and count your units.The alcohol limit in England is 0.08%BAC. This is high in comparison to other countries. In Scotland, France and Australia the limit is 0.05%BAC. How this is portrayed in terms of the number of drinks you can have is very different for each country. This results in us having different perceptions of how much we can drink and how ‘high’ our limit is.
- These are the media messages given for the legal limit in number of drinks in different countries;
Scotland – 1 Drink will put you over so don’t drink anything.
France – Two glasses of wine will put you over.
Australia – Drink no more than one per hour (woman) to stay under. Drink 2 or less and then one an hour (men) to stay under.
If each individual from each country was to have the same amount of alcohol they would each expect a different reading to one another from the way their limit is portrayed in the media.
- We all tolerate alcohol differently and on a daily basis. Everyone seems to know this but still the majority of people will count units to determine when they are fit to drive. If 5 of your friends (I have done this numerous times) all drink the same drink over the same period of time you will all get different readings on a breathalyzer because you will all have a different tolerance to it. Contrary to popular belief low and high tolerance is not down to how often someone drinks either. You may feel ‘OK’ and go through the motions as usual without much effect but your reactions are much slower and you will only be aware of this too late.
- There are many factors to why we all process alcohol differently. Processing alcohol is when the alcohol is removed from our blood out of our system. Factors that can affect your alcohol processing time include: how much you have eaten, exercised and slept; your weight, height, age, and furthermore your hydration, and stress level. There is an endless list. This is why we can sometimes process our first drink with a meal much quicker than when drank on an empty stomach.
Think about your liver!
On our first drink we have a nice healthy liver ready to process the alcohol quickly. After a few more drinks the liver will not be able to keep up. The alcohol will store in the blood until the liver is able to process it. This is why we can still have a lot of alcohol left in our system the morning after.