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Festive motorists gambling with alcohol

Driving a car

A fifth of drivers will risk losing their licence for being ‘slightly over the limit’ this Christmas, according to new research.

The study by Auto Trader, the UK’s largest marketplace for new and used cars, discovered that 19% of motorists (the equivalent of nearly eight million) ‘only slightly over the limit’ will choose to get behind the wheel this Christmas.

Not only are they putting their driving licences at risk, but they are at a very high-risk for accidents and even fatalities.

A quarter of drivers would knowingly get in a car with a driver who has been drinking, while a shocking one in 20 drivers (4%) will get into the driving seat after having four or more alcoholic drinks.

Confusion over the safe number of units is the main reason why so many motorists are driving under the influence with 39% of drivers believing that one unit is still below the legal limit, whereas 32% thought two units was safe, and a further 7% thought three units would still be fine if stopped and asked to take a breathalyser test.

The advice and penalties for drink driving are clear, yet motorists surveyed still felt it was something they can chance.

Reasons for considering drink driving varied from a low risk of being caught (30%), the units system being too complicated to understand (31%), to nearly a third (32%) saying they weren’t sure if they were over the limit or not.

The repercussions for being caught over the limit also seem to have drivers confused, with views on the punishments for drink driving varying from receiving a ‘few’ points, to serving up to six months in prison. Only two fifths (38%) of drivers knew the correct punishment enforced for drink driving offences.

About Gareth Herincx

Gareth is a versatile journalist, copywriter and digital editor who's worked across the media in newspapers, magazines, TV, teletext, radio and online. After long stints at the BBC, GMTV and ITV, he now specialises in motoring.

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