We all know that the legal alcohol limit for fully licensed drivers is 0.05, and 0.00 for L and P platers, yet drink driving still remains a big problem on Australian roads. If you’re planning a night out, plan how you’ll be getting home before you start partying. Like your bestie and their ex, drinking and driving are much better when they’re apart.
- Around 16% of all drivers and riders killed, and between 9-15% of those seriously injured in crashes, had an illegal Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC).
- 1 in 6 people that are breathalysed are driving while over the legal BAC limit.
- Around 175,000 people surveyed admit to driving when they’re over 0.05.
What happens if I drink and drive?
Driving might feel like second nature, but each time you get in the driver’s seat you need top-notch decision making and total concentration. Alcohol affects our ability to be totally in control of our actions, therefore impacting our ability to drive safely on the road (and our ability to do a bunch of other things, but we don’t have to tell you that).
If you’re wanting a more in-depth answer, here’s the breakdown.
- At 0.02 to 0.05 BAC our ability to see or locate moving lights correctly significantly reduces, as does our ability to judge distances and respond to a range of other incidents. We’re also more likely to take risks.
- At 0.05 to 0.08 BAC our ability to judge distances significantly reduces again, our reactions are slower, and our concentration span becomes shorter. At 0.08 BAC, we are five times more likely to have an accident than before we started drinking.
- At 0.08 to 0.12 BAC euphoria sets in, and we overestimate our abilities, which leads to reckless driving. Our peripheral vision is impaired (resulting in accidents due to hitting vehicles in passing), as well as our perception of obstacles. Those driving with a BAC at this level are up to 10 times more likely to have an accident.
How will I get caught?
Drug and alcohol driving offences are most commonly detected:
- By random breath testing (RBT)
- By random drug testing (RDT)
- When stopped or pulled over by police.
Drink driving is a serious offence, and it’s also an offence if you refuse to take a breath test. In most cases, if you are charged with a drink, drug or combined driving offence, you will have to attend court. Depending on the seriousness of the offence, your age and location, you could be facing any (or all) of the below.
- A hefty fine
- Loss of demerit points
- A licence suspension, cancellation or disqualification
- A compulsory Behaviour Change Program
- Getting an alcohol interlock installed
- A zero BAC requirement when driving for three years
- A prison sentence
If you are a repeat, high-risk or drug offending driver, the police can also apply a vehicle sanction to confiscate your vehicle or licence plates.
The bottom line
If you drink, don’t drive.
If you’re planning a night out, plan how you’ll be getting home. We’d never ask you to give up beers at the pub, but if you’re heading out, make sure you’ve teed up a way to get home before it’s actually time to go home.
This might be organising a deso rotation with your mates, pre-booking an Uber to avoid surcharges, familiarising yourself with the bus or train timetable ahead of time, or calling in the old faithful – Mum’s taxi.
If you’re set on driving, play it safe and stick to the softies. When it comes to your licence (and the lives of your mates), guessing isn’t worth the risk.