Under the Influence


Although some drivers may appear sober with a blood-alcohol level of 0,08g per 100ml or higher, the level was fixed at this figure in the past because extensive research showed this was the point at which most drivers became accident-prone through drink. However, some people may show signs of intoxication when their blood-alcohol level is below 0,05g per 100ml. This is why proposals for lowering the limit to 0,05g per 100ml were published in 1996.

There is no standard test which will prove that a person is under the influence. In order to prove such a charge, a court will have to rely on the opinions of witnesses and on reports of the standard of driving and the conduct of the accused at the time of the alleged offence.

A person accustomed to heavy drinking may have a high alcohol tolerance. But even if, say, a man's driving ability, even after many drinks, is unimpaired, if he drives when the level of alcohol in his blood is 0,05g per 100ml or higher, he is guilty of an offence.

The action of alcohol as a depressant of the central nervous system may be aggravated by simultaneous use of certain medicines. Many of these preparations can be obtained from a pharmacy without a prescription, and it is easy to miss the printed warning on the container that their use with alcohol may lead to drowsiness, blurred vision or poor co-ordination.

If your doctor prescribes any medicines, ask whether their use aggravates the effects of alcohol. When medicines are bought without prescription, a properly qualified pharmacist should be able to give you this information. If you are in any doubt, simply do not drink.