Especially when Kevlar jeans and a light, armoured, jacket mean you don’t have to walk into the pub looking like a Power Ranger. And of course, you are safe on one pint. Or are you?

In all probability if you are an average sized healthy male, one pint of ordinary strength beer will not tip you over the English and the Welsh drink drive limit. So you are legal, in Scotland which has a lower level of 50mg of alcohol/100ml of blood, as opposed to the more generous English and Welsh 80mg of alcohol/100ml of blood, the one pint marker may be lower. Interestingly a correlation between the Scots drink drive level going down and a reduction in road traffic casualties has not manifested itself.

If you have a collision and are over the drink drive limit you have an uphill struggle. However, there is a real grey area if you’ve been drinking and are not over the limit, say 35 or 40 mg/100ml. Yes you are officially legal but there are pertinent arguments that apply in this situation. The first is that ‘Parliament has decreed the safe level, I am under the safe level and therefore I am safe’.

Yet where alcohol is a factor the expert evidence and the science is clear in that very low blood alcohol concentrations have been shown to significantly reduce driving abilities and behaviours. Studies have shown levels one quarter of the English drink drive level reduce visual processing and complex multitasking, which makes this issue applicable to riding and driving. At the Scots blood alcohol level of 50mg/100ml the impact is serious on visual perception, reaction and thinking time.

So for us, as vulnerable road users who need to ride, process and react at the top of our game I think it is wise to stay on the soft drinks in the beer garden. In cases that I have brought against drivers with blood alcohol readings under the limit I have brought up the science, but it has usually been a touch over the top as the cases have concluded on ordinary negligence grounds because a raised blood alcohol level usually goes with some pretty poor quality driving.

More commonly I have had to deal with people who have had small amounts of alcohol, not read their patient information sheets for their prescription or non-prescription drugs, and released a pharmacological witch’s brew into their bloodstream.

I cannot recommend highly enough reading your drug information sheet on any drugs you are prescribed or buy. Drugs for chronic pain can mix horribly and unpredictably with alcohol and people who are on pain relief for many years get ‘used’ to very powerful opiate type drugs which react wholly unpredictably with alcohol, when driving.

Andrew Dalton

Bike Magazine August 2019