How long before it’s safe to drive after alcohol – longer than you think

How long to wait before driving after drinking alcohol

Drivers are being urged to wait a safe amount of time to make sure they’re fit to control their car after drinking alcohol…and it’s almost certainly much longer than you think.

Obviously, the more alcohol a person consumes, the longer it will take before they are back within the legal limit to get behind the wheel of a car.

However, while most people may be aware of what the limit is – they do not know how long it takes to get back to a safe level after they have exceeded the limit.

It can mean that people who drive the morning after a heavy night out will probably still be over the limit, even though they think they have ‘slept it off’.

Independent alcohol advice organisation Drinkaware say there has been an increase in requests for advice on the matter.

They advise that there is no ‘quick fix’ to getting large amounts of alcohol out of your system and it takes an average person around one hour to process one standard drink.

They have broken it down into different kinds of drink to help people figure out how long they need to stay away from their cars after they have had their last drink, depending on what drinks they have consumed.

Lager or stout drinkers need to be aware that pints of beers such as Guinness, Heineken, Carlsberg are around 4.5%.

It will take the body two hours to process one pint. If a person drinks 10 pints throughout the evening, they will not be ready to drive for 20 hours.

If the person next to them also had ten drinks, but their tipple was a single vodka and coke, each drink would take one hour to process, and they would be able to get behind the wheel ten hours after their last drink.

If a person has a bottle of either red or white wine to themselves, it will be eight hours until they are safe to drive.

Those who are heading on an even heavier night out need to be aware that the body takes just as much time to process the last drink as the first – it can’t work faster just because the alcohol is piling up.

It all goes into the queue and it is possible that they could consume so much alcohol that they will not be able to drive for over a day after they have their last drink.


If somebody spends the afternoon and evening in the pub, consuming 12 pints of lager, then decides to head out into town where they drink six vodka and cokes, they would need to stay off the road for 30 hours from the time they finished their last drink.

For most people that would include two nights’ sleep before getting back in the car.

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