Is it OK to have a couple of beers if you meet friends? Has public opinion regarding drink driving changed over the past couple of decades?
In the UK, you can have 80mg of alcohol in your blood and still be allowed to ride your motorcycle. This is the highest limit in Europe. Under no circumstances is it OK to think you can drink alcohol and ride a motorcycle—your chances of being in a severe accident increase exponentially.
Is your ability to safely ride a motorcycle impaired after drinking alcohol?
Yes, just with one average beer, and you have impaired your senses and your reaction times should you find yourself needing to make a split-second decision or manoeuvre, you are screwed.
Riding a motorcycle already takes enormous amounts of concentration and coordination. Even with one drink, your decision-making capabilities diminish.
The whole essence of riding a motorcycle is about continuous decision making even though you may not realise it due to the amount of time you have been riding.
Continue to drink, and the next stage of being inebriated is you lose your emotional stability and memory. This occurs just after a couple of pints.
Have another couple of drinks, add a shot, and now your balance is compromised. One of the critical factors to riding a motorcycle is to have a good balance. A recipe for disaster is gaining momentum with every drink you take.
Alcohol affects your cognitive ability, balance, and ability to make good judgments.
How many units can you drink and drive?
There is no hard and fast rule because it depends on physical factors, your height, your body weight when you last eat food, etc.
However, the law states that the permissible limit is 80mg per 100 mg of blood—67 mg of alcohol in urine and 22 mg per 100 ml of breath.
A pint of weak beer contains 2.3 units, so this may be your absolute limit depending on your physical factors.
So it must be better to insist on a blood test to confirm the level of alcohol in your blood if you are stopped?
You may be faced with refusing to take a breath test which is equivalent to pleading guilty to being over the legal limit. The normal procedure is to take a second breath test at the police station, giving a definitive result.
Blood test? Only if you have a good reason not to do the breath test. If you can breathe, you can do the breath test.
Penalties for riding over the alcohol limit
If you do get stopped and are found to be over the legal limit for alcohol, you can expect a minimum of a one year ban which these days seem more likely to be 18 months to provide a more significant deterrent.
The fine will vary with your income, but it will hurt your finances to deter future drink driving offences.
Public opinion is against drunk driving, and it is thought the ambiguous alcohol levels should be thrown out, and the limit should be zero.