Statistics show that motorists are three times more likely to be breathalysed in December.
In December 2021, 37,067 motorists were stopped and took part in a roadside test to crackdown on drink and drug driving during the festive period.
Here’s everything you need to know to make sure you are fully up to speed with UK law so that you know how to respond if you are pulled over for a test.
In the UK, there are strict rules regarding how much you can drink and still drive safely. In England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, the legal limits are 80 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood or 35 micrograms per 100 ml of breath. In Scotland, it’s a bit lower at 50 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood or 22 micrograms per 100 ml of breath. Understanding these limits is crucial, as factors such as weight, age, metabolism, and what you’ve eaten can affect how your body handles alcohol.
Each person reacts differently to alcohol, and even a small amount can impact your ability to drive safely. This is a concern not just for the night out but also the next day—getting behind the wheel while still under the influence can lead to legal consequences.
Staying on the right side of the law and ensuring road safety means being mindful of how alcohol can affect you.
In England and Wales, police officers can stop you while driving or riding a motorbike under section 163 of the Road Traffic Act 1988, provided they are acting “in execution of their duty”; failure to stop in such circumstances constitutes a criminal offence.
A police officer may ask you to produce the following documents:
If you do not have any of these documents available, the police officer should grant you seven days to take the documents to your local police station. Failure to do so will result in you committing a criminal offence.
The police can stop and breathalyse you if:
If the police officer thinks that you are under the influence of alcohol and drugs, the police officer may further ask you to:
If the breath test gives a result straight away and you are not over the limit, you may be allowed to go. However, be aware that police officers can issue an on-the-spot fixed penalty notice for a variety of minor offences. These include neglecting traffic regulations, neglecting pedestrian rights, and vehicle registration and license offences.
If the police officer suspects that you have committed a more serious offence, then you must be cautioned before they speak with you so you are aware that whatever you say may be used as evidence. At this stage, you are entitled to obtain legal advice.
Stay in your car and wind the window down to communicate with the police officer. You should only remove yourself from your vehicle if the police officer asks you to.
Provide the police officer with your name, and address, and confirm whether or not you own the vehicle. If you do not own the vehicle, provide details of the individual who does.
If available, show the police officer your driver’s license and details about your car insurance.
Do not refuse to take the test. The process is not involuntary. Refusing to take the test can result in you committing a criminal offence of failing to provide.
Do not say that you have been drinking if asked. If you have not been drinking, inform the police officer of this. If you have been drinking, you should inform the officer that you would “rather not say” or not answer the question.
Do not inform the officer of any details regarding your journey. You should respond with, “I’d rather not say” or not answer the question.
Do not insist on a blood or urine test. In some circumstances, the police may be required to take a blood and urine test from you. It is up to the police officer to decide what test they require you to take. Refusing to take a breath test but consenting to a blood test will still result in you failing to provide a breath test, and you will be committing a criminal offence. If you have a genuine medical reason that excludes you from taking a breath test, politely inform the officer of this. You should note that you may need to provide medical evidence to support this.
Ask clarification questions about the process if you are unsure what is being requested of you.
Stay calm; a stop and search does not mean that you are or will be arrested. Calm and compliant behaviour will result in a quick search and hopefully a positive and clear resolution.
You will not be able to drive your car until you are sober. You are entitled to ask for someone else to collect your car from you.
You will be taken to a police station and asked to complete a final breath test. If it is positive, you will be charged.
You will be entitled to legal advice from a lawyer, and you must insist that you receive this before being interviewed.
Do not agree to a recorded interview without a lawyer present.
Though the holidays are a time for festivities and fun, arriving safely should be your main priority. If you find yourself accused of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, please click here to talk to a member of our dedicated criminal team. Alternatively, you can contact us via phone at 020 3196 7822 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.