Think before you get behind the wheel

WITH Christmas in full swing, it’s a great time for partying, how often do your thoughts turn to the worst possible scenario which can turn this happy time into a nightmare?

What is the scenario? For most families who are dependent on their car as the main means of transport or in some cases, the means of earning a living, the worst situation must be for one member to lose his or her licence.

Not only that but you may be responsible for injuring or even worse, killing an innocent person.

Even if this does not happen, insurance premiums can increase dramatically, future insurance cover may be restricted and additional compulsory expenses applied.

Finally, convicted drivers may find it very difficult to hire a car for up to 10 years after the return of their licence.

One factor that people ignore is the inevitable morning after the night before.

How many people consider what they have drunk one evening may have consequences for the following morning.

All too often the belief is that a good night’s sleep will take care of any problems.

What many people fail to realise is that alcohol disperses from the bloodstream at an average rate of one unit per hour - a unit consists of a half pint of beer or a small glass of wine or a measure of spirits.

As a result many people will drive - even after a night’s sleep - and will not be aware that they may be over the legal limit to be in control of a car.

However, what should be noted is that there is no definitive guide as to how much a person can drink and stay below the limit to drive, as the amount and type of alcoholic drink along with a person’s weight, sex, age and metabolism all play a part in the resulting effect.

The ultimate nightmare however is that a conviction for drink driving can lead - in extreme circumstances - to penalties of several years in prison or heavy fines allied to disqualifications of up to and beyond two years.

During the festive season there are many times when it is too easy to drink and drive.

Many people use the Christmas holidays as an opportunity to catch up with friends and relatives.

Never send your friends out onto the road at the end of a party, after drinking alcohol.

Plan to have plenty of non-alcoholic drinks and plenty of food available.

Plan who is going to drive home-someone who will not drink alcohol or take drugs.

Arrange to call a taxi or organise a lift.

It often happens that we take elderly relatives home at the end of the day or take our children to and from their parties after we have had a few drinks.

After a few drinks and good food how easy it is to get behind the wheel of a car and drive home.

Many people also appear to be ignorant of the blood alcohol limit for driving.

This is 80 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood, or 35 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath.

This is lower in some EU countries where you dare not risk even one drink because it could, in circumstances take you over the limit.

It is all to easy to forget that a Christmas night’s drink can lead to a conviction for drink driving.

When people are in a relaxed situation it is very easy to say no to the offer of a drink and as a result take ‘one for the road’.

It is not surprising therefore that many people with the best intentions in the world are tempted to have one drink too many and as a result find that they have been involved in an accident which leads to the loss of their licence and even the charge of manslaughter or culpable homicide.

Don’t risk it! If you are driving don’t drink.

If you are drinking, leave the car at home and phone a taxi.

Remember - drinking and driving wrecks lives. Don’t let it be yours.