Is it safe to drive after drinking the night before?
30th November 2015
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While you might feel like you're okay to drive, the law may not agree with you. Do you know how long you should wait before getting behind the wheel after drinking the night before? You may be surprised!

Here are a few tips to help you stay safe, legal and avoid a drink drive conviction.

It is important to note that not all alcoholic drinks contain the same amount of units. For example a strong pint of beer or cider at 5.5% abv could contain 3 units. This would take an hour to get into your blood stream and then a further 3 hours (approx. 1 per unit) from when you have finished drinking, for the alcohol to leave your system.

While it takes about an hour for your body to rid itself of one unit of alcohol, it can take longer depending on a number of factors, including your general health, as well as when and how much you have eaten. 

Pints of beer or cider

  • An average pint at 4% abv is a 2 hour drink
  • Strong beers and ciders at 5.5% abv are 3 hour drinks

If you finish drinking 4 pints of strong beer at midnight that means you should not drive until after 1pm the next day.


A large glass of wine at the pub is generally 250ml but the strength of the wine can vary between 12-15% abv.

  • 250ml of 15% abv is a 4 hour drink

Drink a bottle of 15% abv (3 large glasses), you should not drive for 13 hours.


Think that using more mixer than spirit will help? It won't.

  • 25ml is a 1 hour drink
  • 70ml is a 3 hour drink
If you're pouring your own drinks you will probably be more generous with your measures, and this will make it mpre difficult to calculate the units.


  • 250ml - 300ml bottles of 5.5% abv are 2 hour bottles
  • Large 550ml bottles are 3 hour bottles
  • 275ml - 330ml alcopops are 3 hour bottles

If you finish drinking 5 large bottles at midnight, this will mean that you should not drive until after 4pm the next day

Finishing 4 doubles at midnight will mean that you should not drive until after 1pm the next day.

The above calculations are a guideline only. The best advice is not to drink at all if you are planning on driving, and to avoid heavy drinking if you are planning to drive the next day.

What are the punishments if I get caught drink driving?

Anybody caught drink driving will be banned from the road for at least 12 months and handed a fine of up to £5,000. You can also be sent to prison for up to 6 months depending on the seriousness of the offence.

Is it worth the risk? If you're planning on drinking and driving, don't over-do it or be sensible by leaving your car for the night and get a taxi home.


About the Author

Alex M

Member since: 10th July 2012

My name is Alex Murray. I am passionate about what goes on in and around Walsall. I hope you find my blog to be interesting and thought provoking. Please feel free to give me your feedback.

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