Drink and drug driving

Every year, thousands of road traffic collisions and serious accidents are caused by people who choose to drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Despite frequent public safety campaigns, driving whilst unfit remains a significant public health issue in the UK.

Being in charge of a vehicle while above the legal limit or unfit through drink could result in:

  • 3 months’ imprisonment
  • up to £2,500 fine
  • a driving ban

Understanding your responsibility

When people do drive whilst intoxicated, often this isn’t planned. In 2020, around 140,000 drivers in the UK admitted to driving when they thought they were over the limit.

Sometimes it’s easy to find yourself in a potentially dangerous situation that you might feel uncomfortable challenging. For example, if your friend has given you a lift somewhere and wants to drink alcohol before going home. Mates for Life, the new campaign from Think! looks at ways to challenge a friend who is considering drink driving.

You might not always be able to stop someone from drink driving, but what you can do is make choices.

  • Be clear about your boundaries. Explain the risks of drink driving to your friend and make it clear that you won’t get in a car with a driver who is under the influence. Any amount of alcohol makes it harder to drive safely and puts the driver, passenger and other road users at risk.
  • Encourage your friend to get a taxi. Travelling in a group makes it cheaper and safer.
  • If you know that someone is about to drink drive or is driving above the legal limit, you should report it to the police. If you’re on a night out and spot a stranger who is potentially drink driving, you can also alert the bar staff.

Here are three common myths about driving under the influence:


Any amount of alcohol, even within legal limits, impairs a person’s ability to drive safely and respond to their surroundings.


In England, the legal alcohol limit is 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood.
The way alcohol affects each person is influenced by many different factors, such as age, weight, sex, metabolism and even stress. It’s almost impossible for a person to predict whether they are over the legal limit.



There are many types of drugs, including prescription medications, which can severely impair your ability to drive. In England, complex laws on drug driving cover both illegal drugs (with a zero tolerance approach) and medicinal drugs. If the police determine that you may be unfit to drive due to drugs, you could face severe penalties.

Ways to avoid drink driving

  • If you’re drinking away from home, choose a designated driver (a person who abstains from alcohol so they can drive you home safely).
  • If you don’t have a designated driver, plan your transport in advance; take numbers for taxis or take note of train times.
  • If you are driving, stick to soft drinks, mocktails or zero alcohol beers.
  • Don’t allow your friends to drink drive. Explain that you won’t travel with a driver who is under the influence of alcohol.