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Wine and the Law

Alcohol is involved in about one-third of all serious motor vehicle accidents in the UK. The effect is farily straight forward. As the level of alcohol increases in your body, you have more risk of crashing. The law states that If you are above the prescribed blood alcohol level you are breaking the law, intereastingly the penalty changes as the level of alcohol in your body increases, so does the severity of your fine and/or jail term.

But the chances of getting court are slim if you don't have an accident. Unlike countries like New Zealand where you have a 50% chance of being stopped and breathalysed in a year. In the UK it is significantly lower, less than 1%. It is simply a low priority for the police compared to other countries.

Once stopped the UK limits are fairly lenient by international standards. The limits are set in the UK like most countries in grams of alcohol per litre of blood often, known as Blood Alcohol Content (BAC)  The table below gives some countries and their limits.

  Full License
Cyprus (south) 0.9g/l
Uk, New Zealand, Ireland 0.8 g/l
Australia, Spain, France, Italy, Netherlands 0.5 g/l
Poland, Sweden,Norway 0.2 g/l
Romania, Hungary 0.0 g/l

The problem with giving people a limit such as you should drink x pints or y glasses of wine is that two people who drink the same amount might register quite different BACs. There are many factors that will affect this, including:

Body size: A smaller person will have a higher BAC than a larger person because the alcohol is concentrated in a smaller body mass.

Empty stomach: Someone with an empty stomach will reach a higher BAC sooner than someone who has just eaten a meal. Food in the stomach slows down the rate at which alcohol passes into the bloodstream.

Body fat: People with a lot of body fat tend to have higher BACs because alcohol is not absorbed into fatty tissue, so alcohol is concentrated in a smaller body mass.

Women: After drinking the same amount of alcohol, a woman will almost always have a higher BAC than a male.

If you regularly have a glass and are worried that you may be driving over the limit. Their are a number of cheap breathalyzers similar to those used by the police. Keeping it calibrated and accurate is always an issue so be careful. But this is a great tool to learn how much you can drink.