Most of us are in a car every day, so it’s easy to forget how complex driving really is. When you’re behind the wheel you need total concentration, good coordination, rapid reflexes and the ability to make correct judgements and decisions. Drinking alcohol diminishes that.
Safe drink driving? There’s no such thing.
New Zealand has strict laws about drinking alcohol and driving, with the legal limit set at 0.05 blood alcohol concentration (BAC) or 250 mcg. Drivers aged under 20 must have a 0.00 BAC.
There’s no absolute safe level of alcohol consumption for competent driving. Even after just a few drinks, your driving ability is affected. The more you drink, the higher your blood alcohol concentration, and the greater your chance of having a crash.
In fact, with a BAC of 0.05 (the legal limit) you are twice as likely to crash as you are at zero BAC. And by the time your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) reaches 0.08 (the level at which drink driving becomes a criminal offence in NZ), you are five times more likely to crash than before you started drinking.
If you do choose to have a social drink and still plan to drive, you should be able to enjoy a drink in moderation over a meal according to analysis by the Institute of Environmental Science and Reasearch (ESR) and stay within the legal limit.
The following is a good rule of thumb:
- Drinking two standard drinks over two hours for women and three standard drinks over two hours for men means most people will stay on the right side of the legal limit.
But remember, the average person can only process one standard drink in approximately an hour and there are all sorts of factors that can influence your blood alcohol level, not just how much you drink so this rate can change. If you’re tired, whether you’ve eaten, whether you’re a man or woman, your weight & size, or if you’re on medication – all will affect how your body processes alcohol and how you feel the effects. The decision about whether you drive or not needs to be made by you and you alone. Don’t let friends tell you “you’ll be fine” – they have no idea how you are feeling.
Also – don’t get caught out the next day. If you’re intending on driving the morning after a big night, make sure your body has had time to process the amount of alcohol you drank. Remember, it can only process one standard drink an hour so in the morning, your body might still be processing the alcohol you drank the night before and you may still have too much alcohol in your system to make it safe to drive.
For more detail about our drink driving laws http://www.transport.govt.nz/land/bloodalcoholqanda
Have you seen the new Know Your Limit: Rule of Thumb
campaign from Hospitality New Zealand?
It’s a handy rule to follow, but you need to know exactly what’s in a standard drink first.
Head to our standard drinks page to learn more.