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For truck drivers, staying under the limit is not only important for their safety, but also vital to ensure that they do not lose their licence and livelihood.

Most drivers try to do the right thing and comply with the law. However, in my experience as a traffic lawyer I see many drivers led astray by confusing drink driving guidelines that have been endorsed and disseminated by the government.

The problem is with the guidelines for the number of drinks a person can consume and stay under the legal driving limits. Far too many times I work with people who have followed these guidelines, only to find themselves over the limit unknowingly.

The most commonly used guideline recommends that in order to stay under the legal driving limit of 0.05 BAC people should limit their drinks to:

  • For men: 2 standard drinks in the first hour, and one standard drink per hour after that.
  • For women: 1 standard drink in the first hour, and one standard drink per hour after that.

This guideline is published on numerous government websites, including the NSW Department of Health, Western Australian Police force, Northern Territory Government, Western Australian Road Safety Commission and the Victorian Transport Accident Commission.

However, this recommendation does not work for everyone. It is based on the average person’s rate of metabolism. It is also difficult to apply in practice, as it is not easy to determine exactly how many standard drinks a beverage contains.

Although the government publications usually acknowledge these limitations, they still encourage people to use the guideline as a “rule of thumb”. Many people understandably rely upon the guidelines in determining whether they are safe to drive, no doubt because they trust the official publications.

You would think that Courts would be sympathetic to people who exceed their BAC limits while following the government endorsed drinking guidelines. But in my experience, this isn’t usually the case.

Despite the information being published by government bodies, it is not binding on Courts. Following the guideline does not usually form the basis of a defence to drink driving.

When it comes to sentencing, many Magistrate give little weight to the fact that a person was following the guidelines. Some go as far as saying that people know you can’t rely on the recommendations.

Ultimately, the key message that drivers should remember this Christmas is to follow the “rule of thumb” at their own risk. Ultimately, the only way to stay safe and guarantee that you aren’t caught drink driving is to avoid driving all together until well after the alcohol has left your system.

Image Credit – vitpho ©

Written by Sarah Marinovic on January 9, 2018

Sarah has a strong drive to use her legal knowledge to help people in times of difficulty. Her goal is to not only achieve the best legal result, but to also ensure that her clients understand each step, and what is required from them to achieve the best results. With her friendly manner she strives to ensure that he client's mind is at ease throughout the process. View Sarah's profile

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