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Too much of a merry Christmas

Despite 2020 largely being a write off for most of us with regard to our social plans, we can always (at least hopefully) still look forward to Christmas. Like many, I am optimistic that the current lockdown will end prior to the festive season getting into full swing. It would be fantastic if there was a tangible vaccine before the end of the year, so that families can meet up and enjoy the festive season after months of gloom.

Christmas goes hand-in-hand with overeating, mulled wine, German markets, and drinking with friends and loved ones, and even though some of our usual festive activities probably still will be on hold, Christmas Day can hopefully press ahead as usual.

Christmas is also the season for drink and drug driving campaigns, as police forces across the nation look to clamp down on such offences. After our second release from lockdown, it may be easy to get carried away enjoying our newly restored freedoms and the police will be well aware of that. There’s a phrase I personally hear around Christmas more than at any other time: “Go on, treat yourself!” That extra roast potato, the last mince pie or that one final drink can often be too hard to resist, but how many people pay attention to what we’re actually consuming?

Can a Christmas treat wind up in a driving ban? Let’s take a look…

Christmas Pudding

The ‘Collection 12-month matured intensely fruity Christmas pudding’ from Marks and Spencer’s contains:

• 5 per cent Brandy

• 4 per cent Cognac

• 3 per cent Ruby Port

• 2.5 per cent Stout

That’s a hefty helping of alcohol, and even if it was shared between eight people (and how likely is that, really? In my house it would probably be divided 4 ways, because, come on, it’s Christmas!) you’re still only ingesting 0.7 units of alcohol in a single portion.

Christmas Dinner

Many of us enjoy a routine that is unique to Christmas day when it comes to alcohol. I don’t know about you, but I don’t start every morning with a Buck’s Fizz. It is so easy to overlook the alcohol you actually consume, when you consider that it is added to so many Christmas treats. Furthermore, consuming so much stodgy food slows the absorption rate of alcohol into your bloodstream, meaning that you may not feel intoxicated (or at least as intoxicated) as quickly as you usually would. But even though the effects of alcohol may not be felt as strongly, it is still in your bloodstream. This can give the false impression that you are below the legal limit or alright to drive, so let’s take a look at some typical Christmas-day eating and drinking habits that may put you above the legal limit:

1. One glass of wine (2 units), combined with one mince pie with brandy butter (1 unit) would put the average lady at, or over the drink-drive limit.

2. A double spirit or fortified wine, such as sherry or port (roughly two units per 50ml) after a single portion of Christmas cake with some rum sauce (1.5 units).

3. A Bailey’s hot chocolate (2 units approx) along with a generous portion of Christmas pudding/rum sauce would exceed 4 units and would put the average man over the drink-drive limit.

The purpose of this article isn’t to dampen your fun during the holidays, but I hope it has made you more mindful of what you consume at Christmas dinner, alongside what you have from a glass. Last year, the police conducted almost 300,000 roadside breath tests and I am sure we can all agree that the last way you would want to end this dreadful year is by facing criminal charges and a driving ban. If you do find yourself in hot water, then we will always be passionate about ensuring that motorists have access to legal advice to help them make the right choices and, as usual, we will be open over the festive season in case you need help.

On a final note, have a wonderful festive season, stay safe and let’s all look forward to a more positive 2021!

Motoring Defence Solicitors are road traffic lawyers specialising in drink and drug driving offences. Based out of their central London offices, they provide free advice on a range of offences to motorists nationwide. You can contact Neil Sargeant for free on 0800 433 2880 or visit the website at

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