GP warns all drivers how long it really takes for alcohol to clear before you can drive | The Sun

FOR many Brits Christmas 'tis the season to get boozy.

But with all that additional fizz comes some serious risk, especially if you're a designated driver this holiday.

Experts are urging drivers to be cautious when getting behind the wheel the morning after a night out over the Christmas period.

Alcohol stays in the blood much longer than you think, with varying factors like weight, size and weight affects how quickly you metabolise booze.

And eating – contrary to popular belief – might actually slow down absorption, leaving you hammered for longer.

On average, the body "eliminates alcohol at the rate of one unit an hour,” according to Prof Richard Allsop fromUniversity College London.

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"So anyone who wants to calculate when they’ll be completely free of alcohol needs to find out how many units each of the drinks they usually consume contains and keep a tally for each session," he told The Sunday Times.

Generally speaking, two pints of beer or two small glasses of wine is enough to put you over the legal limit.

Denis McCauley, chairman of the Irish Medical Organisation’s GP committee, also warned partygoers that "lining your stomach" before having drinks could actually delay alcohol absorption.

"You metabolise all alcohol at a very steady-state rate. If you have one pint, it will metabolise at the same rate."

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Are you drinking too much?

The NHS recommendation is that adults consume no more than 14 units of alcohol per week.

Most people count their drinks as “one glass of wine” or “a pint of beer”, rather than units, however. 

This test reveals if your drinking is a problem based both on how much you consume, and your behaviour around booze.

For reference, here are some unit examples:

  • A single shot of spirit (for example, a vodka and lemonade): 1 unit
  • Small glass of wine: 1.5 units
  • Bottle of lager/beer/cider 5%: 1.7 units
  • Can of lager/beer/cider 5.5%: 2.4 units
  • Pint of low (3.6%) or high (5.2%) strength lager/beer/cider: 2 or 3 units
  • Large glass of wine: 3 units

He told the Sunday paper: "If you have three pints, it will metabolise at the same rate.

"So it actually comes out of your system at a slow enough rate.

"If I had a cheese sandwich before I went out for a drink, I would metabolise even slower, because it would take longer for me to absorb that alcohol into my system, so it actually delays the alcohol absorption," the GP added.

How many units of alcohol can you have before driving?

The drink drive limit in the UK is measured in milligrams rather than units.

The limit is 80 milligrams in every 100 millilitres.

Body mass, gender and how quickly your body absorbs alcohol are major factors on how each individual is impacted by drinking.

Around two pints of beer or two small glasses of wine is enough to put you over the legal limit.

The stronger your drink the longer it takes to leave your system so a large glass of wine (250ml) could be in your blood for four hours after.

While a pint might take less time to leave your system – two hours instead of four – you still need to factor in an hour for it to absorb into your body.

All that maths means if you have four pints and stop drinking at midnight, you would not be safe to drive until 9am.

If you treat yourself to a bottle of wine, you shouldn't drive until 1pm the next day to be safe.

Obviously everyone has their own limits because our bodies process alcohol differently.

The easiest way to make you’re safe behind the wheel and within the law is not to drink at all if you’re planning on driving.

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You should also give yourself plenty of time the next day before setting off.

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