One in ten Brits admit to knowingly driving home over the limit from a Christmas party

Authored by newsexpert
Posted: Monday, December 18, 2023 - 09:57

Shocking new statistics have uncovered the number of motorists who get behind the wheel after attending a Christmas party.

A staggering 4.5 million UK drivers¹ - the equivalent of one in 25 people - have broken the law by driving while under the influence after attending a Christmas do.

The research, conducted by business comparison website iCompario, surveyed 1,000 UK adults who drive about whether they had ever knowingly driven home over the legal drink drive limit following a Christmas party or event.

The findings also highlighted that men are much more likely to drink-drive at Christmas than women. Almost one in five men have done so, compared to just under one in ten women (9%).

One in seven (13%) admitted that whilst they haven’t driven home from a festive do over the legal limit, they have got into the car with someone who was.

Drivers in Greater London are the most likely to have driven home from a festive event while drunk, as almost one in four living in the capital (23%) have done this at least once.

A shocking number of Birmingham residents have also driven home over the legal limit (20%). The midlands city recorded the second highest number in the UK.

UK cities with highest percentage of residents who admit they have driven home from a festive party over the limit / %:

Birmingham - 19.54

Bristol - 19.15

London - 17.96

Nottingham - 15.38

Manchester - 14.44

In contrast, Norwich residents were found to be the best behaved. Just six per cent admit to drink-driving after a Christmas party, less than any other city.

iCompario also surveyed UK adults on how comfortable they would feel about stopping someone they suspected of being over the limit from driving home after a party. One in three festive party goers said they wouldn’t want to intervene to stop someone drink-driving over Christmas (33%).

The figures for Northern Ireland were more encouraging with 43% saying they would stop someone getting behind the wheel after too many.

Currently, the legal drink drive limit in England, Wales and Northern Ireland is 35 micrograms of alcohol per 100ml of breath, but it’s considerably lower in Scotland at 22 micrograms.

According to DfT statistics, having been declining in the early 2000s and 2010s, drink-driving incidents have been on the up since 2014.

This is still a large decrease on the 5,630 serious collisions recorded in 1979 – the worst year on record for drink-driving accidents. 

As workers let off steam at Christmas events across the country, the findings by iCompario are a cause for concern. This is highlighted by the fact that statistically, you’re twice as likely to have a collision between 10pm and 2am compared to any other time of day.

Andy Davies, iCompario Spokesperson said: “These findings are a real eye-opener to how big an issue drink-driving remains in the UK, with the findings seeming to suggest that the festive period is particularly problematic, with millions of us catching up with colleagues and friends for a drink before the big day.

“Whilst many of us will be looking after our spending around this particular Christmas time, the extra expense on a taxi or organising a lift from a close one is absolutely the right thing to do. Many drink drivers convince themselves that they will be ok to drink-drive just once – but even one time is enough to jeopardise the lives of yourself and others and risk a custodial sentence.”

UK cities with largest no. of people who say they would not feel comfortable stopping another person from driving home drunk / %:

Bristol - 21.28

Southampton - 20.00

London - 19.59

Norwich - 17.78

Birmingham - 17.24

Sources & Methodology:  

  • A survey of 1,000 UK adults conducted in December 2023
  • ¹ 4.5 million = 11% of UK drivers with a full driving license who have driven over the drink drive limit at least once / 1.6 million = 4% of UK drivers with a full license who have driven over limit more than once, calculated against 41,340,364 people in UK who own full driving entitlement licences, see here.
  • ²Table Ras2011 here.  
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