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Drink & Drug Drive: The Morning After

DrinkDrug1In Gloucestershire  1 in 5 breath tests are conducted during the morning after. Although you may feel fine, you could still be over the legal alcohol limit or unfit to drive. A cold shower, a cup of coffee or sleep won’t make you safe to drive any quicker. It just takes time, and more time than you think.

People have been keeping track of their drinking by counting alcohol units for about 30 years – the idea of units was introduced in this country in 1987.  But do we really understand what a unit of alcohol is, and how this can help us to keep healthy and safer?

A unit is about the amount of alcohol the average adult can process in an hour. This means that within an hour there should be, in theory, little or no alcohol left in the blood of an adult, although this will vary from person to person.

The number of units in a drink is based on the size of the drink as well as its alcohol strength. For example, a pint of strong lager contains 3 units of alcohol, whereas the same volume of standard lager has just over 2 units.

With so many different drinks and glass sizes, from shots to pints – not to mention bottles – it’s easy to get confused about how many units are in your drink.

Calculating units

All you need to know is a simple calculation that uses the strength of the drink and the volume being consumed:

Alcohol By Volume (ABV) is a measure of the amount of pure alcohol as a percentage of the total volume of liquid in a drink.  You can find the ABV on the labels of cans and bottles,  written as “ABV”, “Vol” or “Alcohol Volume” or you can ask bar staff about particular drinks.

For example, wine that says “12% ABV” or “alcohol volume 12%” means that 12% of the volume of that drink is pure alcohol.

You can work out how many units there are in any drink by multiplying the total volume of a drink (in ml) by its ABV (which is measured as a percentage) and dividing the result by 1,000.

Strength (ABV)  x volume (ml) ÷ 1,000 = units

For example, to work out the number of units in a pint (568ml) of strong lager (ABV 5.2%):

5.2 (%) x 568 (ml) ÷ 1,000 = 2.95 units

Drinks and units

A 750ml bottle of red, white or rosé wine (ABV 13.5%) contains 10 units.

How quickly your body can process alcohol will also be affected by factors such as whether you’re on medication, whether you’ve eaten, your general health, well being and your gender.

FACT: a drink driver is anyone who is over the legal alcohol limit for driving. It doesn’t matter if you’ve done all the ‘right’ things the night before. If you are found to be above the legal limit the morning after, you will face the same consequences as if you were caught at night.

For more information on the affects of alcohol visit

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