Sleeping it off? Probably not

With the new lower alcohol limits, people are discovering they are still over the limit when they drive home the next day.

The morning after your Christmas party might be your downfall under new drink drive laws.

The new limits will add a couple of hours to your sobering-up time, warns an emergency department specialist, meaning you could still be over the limit as late as mid-morning.

And women are particularly at risk of falling foul of the law, says clinical toxicologist Dr Paul Quigley.

“Even if females stop drinking at 1am and then go to bed and sleep they will still be over the legal limit at 10am. Under the old drink-driving levels they would just squeak under at 8am.”

The legal alcohol count for drivers aged 20 and over was lowered from 80mg to 50mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood, or 250 micrograms of alcohol per litre of breath (previously 400) on December 1.

Quigley expects more people will be ticketed by police in the mornings as stricter levels mean on average it will take men about an extra hour to fall below the new alcohol limit the next day, and up to two hours for women.

It’s getting to the point of “don’t drink and drive for 24 hours”.

“Sleep does not speed up being sober … our livers simply chug their way through one standard drink per hour, awake or asleep.

“Sleep may make you feel better, because when you wake you are less drunk and more energetic, but in fact you are still impaired for driving.”

Research by Quigley on how the new limits will impact on motorists will be sober reading for some drivers.

Using a case study of someone who consumed 13 standard drinks between 5pm and midnight, and then went to bed, under the old regime, men would generally be fit to get behind the wheel about 5.30am. But that would now stretch out to about 6.30am.

Women would have passed a breath test about 8am under the previous breath limits, but that would change to about 10am under the new rules.

Police expect to issue 19,000 additional tickets in the first year of the new regime, potentially netting $3.8 million.

aaand there it is.

It’s not about people driving around blind drunk.  It’s all about turning people who never ran foul of the law, and were absolutely capable as well as legal, into a revenue source.   The reduction in fatalities due to this law will be next to zero.  But the income for the consolidated fund will do very nicely thank you.

The bottom line remains – don’t drink if you’re going to be driving.


– Russel Blackstock, NZ Herald


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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.