How does alcohol affect driving?
Alcohol is a depressant drug. It slows down the activity of the central nervous system, including the brain.
Alcohol could affect your driving by causing:
The hangover effects of alcohol, the next day, can make it hard to concentrate and drive safely, and might cause you to fall asleep while driving.
A person who has been drinking alcohol may think that if they are especially careful, they will be able to drive safely. However, the alcohol may have affected their view and experience of reality. Their actions and responses may be quite different to what is actually needed, but they may be unaware of how much their driving skills have been affected.
If you intend to drive, the safest option is not to drink.
Keep track of how much you drink
If you do decide to drink, keep track of how much you drink, by monitoring the number of standard drinks you consume each hour.
Some people may need to drink less to keep their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) under 0.05 and drive safely. Find out more about BAC.
Limit your drinking
Wait for your BAC to drop before driving
It is important to remember that BAC can continue to rise up up to 3 hours after the last drink was consumed.
The only way to remove alcohol from your system is to allow the body time to process it. Showers, coffee or fresh air will not reduce BAC.
On average, the liver breaks down a little less than one standard drink per hour. Before driving, you should wait at least an hour for each standard drink you've had.
Have a back-up plan
If you have too much to drink, be prepared to make other arrangements so you don't have to drive to get home.
Last updated: 27 March 2013
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