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The safest option is not to drink any alcohol at all if you plan to drive. Even a small amount of alcohol can affect your ability to drive, and there's no safe way to tell whether you're within the legal limit.
The limit varies depending on what country you're in. In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, the legal alcohol limit for drivers is:
In Scotland, the legal alcohol limit for drivers is:
There’s no safe way to calculate how much alcohol you can drink to stay below the legal limit. Alcohol's effect on the body varies between different people and depends on factors such as:
Any amount of alcohol affects your judgment and your ability to drive safely. You may not notice the effects but even a small amount of alcohol can:
Alcohol can also make you more likely to take risks, which can create dangerous situations for you and other people.
Alcohol takes time to leave your body. For example:
There's no quick way of sobering up. Drinking coffee or taking a cold shower won't help. Many hours after drinking, you could still be over the legal limit or unfit to drive.
In 2013, 260 people were killed and 1,100 were seriously injured as a result of drink driving. More than 70,000 people every year are caught drink driving.
If you fail a roadside breath test and are found guilty of drink driving, you may get:
If you're going to drink alcohol, plan beforehand how you'll get home without driving. You could book a taxi, use public transport or arrange a lift with someone who's not drinking.
Never offer alcohol to someone who's going to drive, and don't get in a car with someone who has been drinking.
Find out more about drinking and alcohol.
Important: Our website provides useful information but is not a substitute for medical advice. You should always seek the advice of your doctor when making decisions about your health.