Morning-After Teens Done for Drink Driving

.00 tolerance in the evening .00 tolerance in the morning.

All states are pushing even harder for an increased awareness of the ‘Morning after the Night before’ drink driving problem. Police are warning all drivers to consider their BAC (Blood Alcohol Concentration) before getting behind the wheel of a car after a big night out this holiday period.

People are becoming more and more aware of the problem of drunk driving and either arranging a designated driver, calling a cab, taking public transport or “crashing” the night. But what if you need to get somewhere the next morning?

Sandra Robinson, Road Safety and Traffic officer for Leeton Shire, NSW said the number of people caught driving under the influence (DUI) between the hours of 6am and 12noon during holiday periods increases dramatically.

“Every year I get calls from shocked drivers wanting to know why they have been charged with DUI the morning after a big night out,” Ms Robinson said.

After more than 5 hours of sleep, a shower, cup of coffee and a good breakfast you may feel fine to drive but police are still catching motorists well over the .05 legal limit.

How does this affect our teenage drivers? In most states of Australia there is not only a .00 blood alcohol tolerance for probationary licence holders but stricter penalties apply for drivers over this limit.

Teenage drivers have to wait for all the alcohol to pass through their system before getting behind the wheel.

Addiction Psychologist Dr Mark Daglisk says, “Approximately, the body will get rid of 1 standard drink per hour.”

Often when people go to sleep, they’ve still got alcohol in their stomach, so their blood alcohol is still rising.

Chief Health Officer and Road Safety Council Member in Western Australia, Andy Robertson says, “Your blood alcohol level can keep rising for up to two hours after your last drink.”

The likelihood then of teenage drivers still being over the legal .00 limit when they wake up the morning after a big night out is considerable!

How is it possible then to keep our teenage drivers safe on the roads and prevent them establishing a criminal record with DUI charges?

S.P. Hardy, a Melbourne Barrister with 18 years experience defending road traffic offences lists 9 points to avoid drink driving convictions without legal assistance. At the top of the list is, “If you drink, don’t drive” (common sense to most people) however, it’s closely followed by, “Buy a personal breathalyser”.

Though Richard Blackburn, in a December 2009 article in The Age entitled “Breathalysers put to the test” discredits the pinpoint accuracy of commercially available personal breathalysers and states, “Perhaps buying one only encourages you to push the boundaries.” RACV (Royal Automobile Club of Victoria) retail stores have seen an increase in sales of personal breathalysers to parents of teenage drivers.

Anne-Maree Keys of the Rosebud store says, “Parents are getting them for their teenage kids to make sure they’re not registering before they go off to work the morning after a big night.”

The RTA (Road Traffic Authority) NSW Drink Driving Brochure says, “Don’t try to estimate your BAC. Measure it. The RTA recommends using an Australian Standards approved (AS 3547) breath testing device. But remember… If you go out drinking and have a big night you may still be over the limit the next day so take another test in the morning.”

If you are planning to drink, then plan NOT to drive.

Plan ahead; take a taxi, take public transport, organise a designated driver who won’t be drinking, arrange a friend or family member to give you a lift. Remember it takes time for alcohol to completely break down in your system.

If you’re still concerned the morning after a big night look to invest in a personal breathalyser and make sure you test yourself before getting behind the wheel of a car!