One in six motorists believe that they have driven while under the influence in the past year, research by the RAC suggests.
In total, 16% of the 1,727 motorists questioned say they think they have been guilty of drink-driving, either immediately after consuming alcohol or the morning after a late night drinking session.
Five per cent of motorists surveyed felt sure they were over the limit shortly after having a drink, while 3% think they may have been over.
Worryingly, a larger proportion admit to believing they have driven when over the limit the morning after drinking heavily the night before. Of the 10% who said this, 2% were sure they had done so while 8% think they might have done.
The study also found that men are more likely to risk drink-driving than women, both straight after drinking and the morning after.
Londoners have a greater tendency to drive while over the limit. In the capital, only 74% say they don’t think they have been guilty of this, compared with 84% in the general population and 89% of those who live in rural areas.
As the country is in the midst of the Christmas party season, the RAC is highlighting the ‘morning after’ issue in an attempt to get every motorist to make sure they are safe to drive the next day.
“Anyone who has been out celebrating during the festive period should be very mindful of not being over the limit when they go to drive the next day,” said RAC road safety spokesman Pete Williams .
“Anyone who thinks they are likely to have sobered up enough to drive just because they went to bed for a few hours may just be about to ruin someone else’s Christmas as well as their own.
“It is vital that everyone who has been drinking leaves sufficient time for their body to process the alcohol they have consumed.
“The trouble is everyone metabolises alcohol at different rates so the message has to be to err on the side of caution by leaving extra time before deciding to drive, or better still to use an alternative form of transport such as bus, taxi or train, or get a lift from a friend or colleague.
“If you are having to think whether you are sober enough to drive then the answer is you probably aren’t.”
The research also revealed there is extensive general public support for a UK-wide reduction in the legal blood-alcohol limit to 50 milligrams (down from 80mg) per 100ml – as enforced in Scotland – or even to 20 milligrams, with six in 10 (59%) British motorists saying they are in favour of 50mg or less becoming law.