Christmas Drinks


With end of year parties, family gatherings and celebrations regularly involving alcohol, road users need to be extra vigilant in making appropriate plans for transport.

When individuals participate in drink driving it increases the risks of having an accident. An individual with a blood alcohol reading of 0.05 (low range) doubles the risk of having an accident. An individual with a blood alcohol reading of 0.08 (mid range) is 7 times more likely to be involved in an accident and an individual with a blood alcohol reading of 0.15 (high range) is 25 times more likely to be in an accident.

Black coffee, showers, water or food will not work. The only thing that will sober up an individual is time. After consuming alcohol “last night” you may still be over your legal alcohol limit for much of today.

Special care must be taken by younger drivers. It is becoming more common for individuals to be charged with drink-driving the day after consuming alcohol. There is no way to speed up the rate your body gets rid of alcohol. A healthy liver breaks down less than one standard drink per hour. If your liver is damaged it takes even longer.

For young drivers it can take more than 18 hours for your blood alcohol concentration to get back to zero. The following examples show how long it may take for alcohol to leave your system:


John is 19 years old and holds a P2 licence with a zero alcohol limit. If John started drinking at 6pm and had 10 schooners of full strength beer (15 standard drinks) over 6 hours, at midnight his blood alcohol concentration would be 0.17. It would take John more than 11 hours before his blood alcohol concentration returned to zero. Therefore John would have to wait until almost noon the next day before he could drive legally.


Sue is 18 years old and holds a P1 licence with a zero alcohol limit. If Sue started drinking at 10pm and had 6 pre-mixed drinks (9 standard drinks) over 4 hours, at 2am her blood alcohol concentration would be 0.24. It would take Sue more than 16 hours before her blood alcohol concentration returned to zero. Sue would have to wait until 6pm the next day before she could drive legally.

The Christmas school holiday period coincides with an increase in fatalities on NSW roads. In NSW, during the 2014/2015 Christmas/New Year period there were 10 fatalities.

During the 2014/2015, NSW Police Operation Safe Arrival, held over 17 days, a total of 830,670 motorists were breath tested by NSW Police. As a consequence of the operation:

  1. 1,273 individuals were charged with drink-driving related offences;
  2. 14,422 individuals were charged with speeding offences; and
  3. 1,881 individuals were charged with not wearing seatbelts.

In 2014 there was a significant increase in fatalities related to drug-driving which was responsible for 11 per cent of deaths. 15 per cent were attributed to alcohol. Speed contributed to 41 per cent and fatigue was implicated in 17 per cent of deaths.

From 1 January to 18 February 2015 NSW Police ranked Newcastle 6th (with 546) and Lake Macquarie 7th (with 511) in the list of locations with the most drink-drivers in NSW.

Drink-driving attracts serious penalties. A summary of penalties and disqualification periods for drink-driving matters are noted below:

PCA Offence

Fine $

Imprisonment (months)

Disqualification Period

Minimum Interlock Period

Low Range 1,100 Nil Automatic 6 months N/A
1st Offence Minimum 3 months
Low Range 2,200 Nil Automatic 3 months 12 months
2nd+ Offence Minimum 1 month
Mid Range 2,200 9 Automatic 12 months N/A
1st Offence Minimum 6 months
Mid Range 3,300 12 Automatic 9 months 24 months
2nd+ Offence Minimum 6 months
High Range 3,300 18 Automatic 9 months 24 months
1st Offence Minimum 6 months
High Range 5,500 24 Automatic 12 months 48 months
2nd+ Offence Minimum 9 months

From 1 February 2015 new requirements were placed on NSW drivers convicted of serious and repeat drink-driving offences. The new laws included a mandatory requirement for certain offenders to fit alcohol interlock devices to their vehicles.


Few people are also aware that if you have three or more serious traffic offences within a five year period, you will be classified as an Habitual Traffic Offender and you will receive an additional five years disqualification added to any disqualification period imposed by the Court.

We urge you to take care on the roads and don’t drink and drive; plan your trip home.

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