Frequently asked questions about alcohol
Welcome to Drinkaware’s FAQs about alcohol.
- What is a unit?
- How many units can I drink?
- What is binge drinking?
- From what age am I legally allowed to drink?
- What is the law surrounding drink driving?
If you can’t find the answer to any of your questions here, then please email us.
What is a unit?
How many units can I drink?
Drinking in moderation should not have any adverse health effects. The government advises that people should not regularly drink more than the daily unit guidelines of 3-4 units of alcohol for men (equivalent to a pint and a half of 4% beer) and 2-3 units of alcohol for women (equivalent to a 175 ml glass of wine) ‘Regularly’ means drinking every day or most days of the week.
To calculate your unit consumption, use our unit and calorie calculator.
What is binge drinking?
For the NHS, binge drinking is defined as drinking over double the daily unit guidelines in one session. For men this is over eight units, and for women, over six. However, because individuals are all different, the rate at which they reach intoxication varies. Binge drinking is a major factor in accidents, violence and anti-social behaviour.
For more information, visit our binge drinking page.
From what age am I legally allowed to drink?
The law is complex. It is illegal to give alcohol to children under five, but after the age of five children can drink alcohol at home with adult supervision.
Under the Licencing Act (2003) children aged under 16 may now enter any part of a licensed premises as long as they are accompanied by an adult, but they cannot drink alcohol.
Young people aged 16 and 17 may consume some types of alcohol – namely beer, cider and wine - as long as it is with a meal, and they are accompanied by an adult. This is except in Scotland where they can be unaccompanied but are restricted to areas used only for meals.
What is the law around drink driving?
It is an offence to drive with more than 80 milligrams of alcohol in 100 ml of blood, or 35 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 ml of breath. It is impossible to say how many units or drinks this represents, because everyone metabolises alcohol at different rates.
For more information visit our drink driving page.
Do you need to cut down?
The first step is to look honestly at how much you drink and how that compares to the government's daily unit guidelines.
Daily unit guidelines
You should not regularly exceed:
Find out how many units you are drinking
Compare your drinking to the government’s daily unit guidelines.Try our Unit Calculator
Page updated: April 2013
Did you know?
More than 1 in 10 deaths of people in their 40s are from liver disease, most are from alcoholic liver diseaseAlcohol and the liver
Calculate your calories
Find out how many calories are in your drinksTry our unit calculator
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Daily unit guidelines
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