We all know that getting behind the wheel when you’ve had a few too many, is a really bad idea. But more than 8,000 motorists have been caught driving while over the limit – twice in five years. And when you think about the fact that provisional estimates from the Department for Transport show that between 200 and 290 people died in 2015, because of drink-drive incidents – it’s pretty sobering.

The revelation came about in response to a Freedom of Information (FOI) request and relates to what’s known as a ‘DR10 endorsement’ – which is basically when you get given penalty points for ‘driving or attempting to drive with alcohol level above limit’ (in official phrasing).

A DR10 endorsement stays on your licence for 11 years; you can also be given up to 11 points – the number will depend on how serious the offence you committed was. But it’s not just about a few points, you could face a driving ban for at least 12 months; an unlimited fine and even end up in prison – you have been warned.

The full FOI request breakdown looks at how many drivers received a DR10 between 2011 and 2015 – and you might be surprised at the number who just can’t seem to say ‘no’ to that ‘last one for the road’ – here they are:

  • 219,008 drivers were caught once for drink driving
  • 8,068 drivers were caught twice
  • 449 drivers were caught three times
  • 46 drivers were caught four times
  • Five drivers were caught five times
  • Two drivers were caught six times

The head of the AA, Edmund King, said of the numbers:

“The fact that more than 8,000 drivers have been caught twice in five years is all the more astonishing when they should have been off the road for a year or more. The repeat offender figures also suggest that a minority of drivers have a drink problem rather than a driving problem. Perhaps it is time to review some of the medical checks and rehabilitation courses before allowing these drivers back on the road.”

At the moment, anyone who has faced a ban from driving because of alcohol can apply to get their licence back once their ban has ended by filling out a form that includes some medical questions. Only those who have committed really serious drink related offences need to have a medical assessment and blood test to make sure they’re fit to be on the roads.

So, what exactly are the legal limits when you’ve had a drink? In England and Wales, it looks like this:

  • 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100ml of blood
  • 35 milligrams of alcohol per 100ml of breath
  • 107 milligrams of alcohol per 100ml of urine

In Scotland, the limits are lower (and more in line with some European countries) at 50 milligrams of alcohol per 100ml of blood and 22 micrograms per 100ml of breath. And it seems that the majority of drivers (78%) agree with having a lower legal limit and more than half (54%) think the limit should be as close to zero as possible.

Of course, we all react to alcohol differently and it’s all very well having legal limits, but it’s almost impossible to say how individuals will react. There are simply too many other variables such as the food you’ve eaten, when you ate, your weight, sex, how stressed you are and even the type of alcohol has an influence on the effects. So, if in doubt – it’s probably safest to just not drive when you’ve had a drink.

Plus, let’s not forget the long-term hangover of drink driving – the effect on your car insurance because when it comes to sorting out your cover, you’ll be expected to declare any driving convictions. Having a blemished licence means you can expect to pay more and you may even struggle to get cover at all; meaning that comparing the market becomes all the more important. So, keep yourself and others safe, and don’t drink and drive – simples.

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