We all know that if you’ve been drinking, you shouldn’t get into your car and drive.  These days, of course, most motorists won’t drive if they’ve had a drink - but what about 'the morning after’ you’ve had a few at a festive celebration the night before?

It’s not just about being under or over the limit either.  Studies show that if you drive while having only one-eighth of the English drink drive limit in your system or one fifth of the Scottish limit, you are 37% more likely to be involved in a fatal accident than when sober*.  

On average, most people process alcohol from their body at a rate of one unit per hour, but this is just an average. In fact, everyone processes alcohol at differing rates so it’s very difficult to estimate when you might be clear the next day.  There are many factors that can affect this from your height and weight to the condition of your liver and so on: some people simply process alcohol out more slowly, others more quickly.  Eating before or while drinking alcohol will reduce your peak alcohol level and slow absorption into the blood, but it will take longer to leave your system. Brunch, coffee or a cold shower might make you feel better but there’s no way to speed up how quickly alcohol actually leaves your system.  

So, since it’s difficult to judge when you’re likely to be completely clear of alcohol, the only way to accurately help you avoid potentially fatal guesswork is to invest in a personal breathalyser.  For example, if you've had a few glasses of wine at lunchtime and have to drive that evening, or you’ve been making merry all evening and then hit the road early on a Saturday, a personal breathalyser will give you the tools to make an informed decision about the level of alcohol remaining in your system.

Investing in a personal breathalyser requires some knowledge.  Make sure that you buy one with a highly-accurate sensor that is used by UK police forces and one with a colour screen clearly showing whether you’re over the limit or if it’s the morning after, whether you still have alcohol in your system at all.  A backlit blow tube receptor is perfect for use on dark mornings or evenings and the readings should be automatically fine-tuned according to the temperature.  Some breathalysers even have a ‘blow coach’ which give you on screen tips on how to give the best breath sample, making them exceptionally easy to use and importantly a ‘time until sober’ forecast and re-test alert.  There are often multiple country destination alcohol limits pre–programmed, so that you can use it when driving between Scotland and England over the festive season, for example, or for holiday road trips the year round.  

Give the gift of safety

This year, have a happy, not a ‘merry' Christmas on the roads and give the gift of safety to a friend or relative – or even an early Christmas present to yourself.  The AlcoSense Excel (£99.99) or the AlcoSense Pro (£149.99) are both personal breathalysers which are manufactured according to ISO13485, the benchmark in medical device quality systems.  The company also offers an after-care annual re-calibration test to ensure their products continue to work at factory-set accuracy levels year round. 

Hunter Abbott, MD of AlcoSense has spent 10 years creating some of the most accurate personal breathalysers on the market, is a member of PACTS - transport safety advisers to Parliament, and a British racing driver.