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12 Days of Harm Reduction - Driving Under The Influence

Last Festive Season the Orkney police recorded ZERO instances of driving under the influence in the county. That is a fantastic statistic, but it is no reason to get complacent. Driving under the influence of either drink or drugs is illegal, irresponsible, and potentially fatal for you, your passengers and other road users. DON’T DO IT.

10 Driving

Driving under the influence of alcohol:

The legal drink-driving limit in Scotland is 50mg per 100ml of blood (equivalent to 22mg of alcohol per 100ml of breath). It’s a limit set to cover different metabolism rates and conditions that may affect the absorption rate of alcohol.

A drink-drive conviction can lead to unemployment, humiliation, guilt and have a devastating impact on your friends and family. Even having one drink can put you over the limit so the best approach is none.

Just one drink before driving can affect you in the following ways: slower reaction times; blurred vision; being unable to judge speed and distances properly; loss of concentration; difficulty in making rational decisions; impaired coordination; increased risk-taking.

Other road users, including pedestrians, wheelers, cyclists and horse riders are even more vulnerable so don’t put them at risk by drink-driving.

Alcohol can take a long time to leave your system, so you could still be over the limit well into the following day.

Eating won’t sober you up – alcohol has a similar effect on you, whether you drink with food or not. It’s also a myth that coffee, cold showers or being in fresh air help you to sober up or get alcohol out of your system more quickly. They don’t. The only thing that does is time.

The best way to avoid drink-driving is to plan ahead before you go out. Get home safely using public transport; arranging a taxi; nominating a designated driver; or staying at a friend’s house or hotel.

Driving under the influence of drugs

Since October 2019, Police Scotland is able to carry out immediate roadside testing for any driver they suspect of drug-driving. So, don’t drive under the influence of drugs, so Drive Smart.

Police in Scotland can carry out immediate roadside testing using a ‘Drug Wipe’. Drivers found to be under the influence of drugs will be arrested, taken to a nearby police station and required to provide a blood sample, which will be sent to a lab for analysis.

Most drugs stay in your system longer than alcohol – traces of some drugs will still show up in blood tests after 4-5 days. Exactly how long a drug remains in your system depends on the type of drug and variables like your age, weight, hydration levels and drug tolerance. Some heavy drug users will always have drugs in their system.

Remember, it’s an offence to drive if you have over the specified limit of certain drugs in your blood. This is true even if you have been prescribed the drugs by a doctor.  Remember, over-the-counter drugs can also affect your ability to drive. If you’re taking medicine and not sure whether you should drive, talk to your doctor, pharmacist, or a healthcare professional.

Taking alcohol and drugs together is even worse, as their effects combine, and the risk can be multiplied. Even low levels of alcohol mixed with low levels of drugs can cause significant danger. The best approach is none.

Reporting drink or drug driving:

If you see someone getting into their car after drinking or using substances, you should act. If you feel safe and confident enough to do so, suggest they choose an alternative way of getting where they’re going, or you could alert someone else nearby, but remember to call the police whenever possible. Before dialling the police, make sure you’ve noted:

  • The car registration number
  • A description of the vehicle
  • A description of the person
  • The location
Orkney Alcohol and Drugs Partnership