As the police announce a summer crackdown on drink driving,Brake and Direct Line are calling on all drivers, but men in particular, to pledge to stay off the booze if getting behind the wheel. Their calls come, as research out today shows male drivers are three times more likely to regularly take to the road after drinking alcohol, than their female counterparts (full survey results by Brake and Direct Line below).

A month-long enforcement campaign starting today, led by the Association of Chief Police officers will step up levels of roadside testing for alcohol as well as highlight the dangers of drink driving. In June 2011, more than 5,000 drivers were caught as part of the drink drive crackdown [1].
Julie Townsend, Brake deputy chief executive, said: “Anyone who drives after drinking alcohol – even one drink – is taking a horrendous risk with people’s lives. We can all help prevent needless drink drive casualties this summer, by pledging to drive sober or not at all and planning ahead; so you friends and family can get home safely from festivities. We’re particularly appealing to male drivers, to consider the appalling suffering they  could cause, and commit to never getting behind the wheel after drinking: not a drop.”

Andy Goldby, Director of Motor Underwriting and Pricing at Direct Line Car Insurance said: “Drink driving is one of the most serious crimes a driver can commit and those who chose to do it are not just risking their own lives, but those of other road users. The affect alcohol consumption has on someone’s ability to drive are well documented. Anyone who gets in a car when they have been drinking, are accepting their actions will endanger others.  There is no excuse to drink drive. Ensuring you stay within the law and keep the roads safe, is simple; if you know you are going to drink, don’t drive, and if you know you are going to drive don’t drink.”
Survey results

The survey of 800 drivers and riders by Brake and Direct Line [2] found:

  • Male drivers are three times more likely to regularly drink and drive as their female counterparts: 9% so do at least monthly compared to 3% of females
  • Two in five men (40%) and nearly a third of women (30%) admit getting behind the wheel after drinking alcohol in the past year
  • Men are more likely to regularly drink drive first thing in the morning after drinking a lot of alcohol the night before (6% do so at least monthly compared to 4% of women)
  • Two in five men (43%) and a third of women (33%) admit to driving first thing after a big night in the past year

Read about Brake’s Not a drop, not a drag campaign to stamp out drink and drug driving at


Facts One in seven deaths on UK roads are still caused by drink drivers over the current legal limit [3]. This limit is currently set at 80mg alcohol per 100ml blood (due to reduce to 50mg in Northern Ireland and Scotland), but drivers with even 20-50mg alcohol per 100ml of blood are at least three times more likely to die in a crash than those with no alcohol in their blood [4]. This is because even small amounts of alcohol affects drivers’ reaction times, judgment and co-ordination.. Alcohol also makes it impossible for drivers to assess their own impairment because it creates a false sense of confidence and means drivers are more inclined to take risks and believe they are in control when they are not.

Advice to drivers There is never a need to drink alcohol when driving and if you do you risk causing serious harm to yourself or other innocent road users. Instead you should plan ahead to make sure you can get home safely when going out for the night, by using public transport, booking a taxi, or having a designated driver who sticks to soft drinks. Don’t drink if you are driving early the next morning. There’s no way of knowing exactly how long it takes to sober up completely after drinking, but it’s longer than many people think. As a rough guide you should allow at least one hour to absorb alcohol, plus at least one hour for each unit consumed – but it could take longer, so you should always leave extra time to be safe. If you’ve had a lot to drink you may be impaired for all of the following day.

Drivers and non-drivers can make Brake’s Pledge to help stamp out drink driving and other  risky driving at


Calls to government

Brake recommends a 20mg alcohol per 100ml blood drink limit, an effective zero tolerance level that is used in some other European counties such as Sweden and Poland.

In 2011 Northern Ireland announced plans to cut its limit to 50mg, alongside 20mg for novice drivers, and earlier this week Scotland announced plans for a 50mg limit. However, Whitehall last year stated its refused to lower the limit for the rest of the UK, despite recommendations from Sir Peter North and the Transport Select Committee.

Alongside a lower limit, we need more resources for traffic policing, so there are sufficient numbers of officers to carry out a significantly higher number of tests.