Can I drive the morning after drinking alcohol?
How you could be over the drink drive limit without even realising
Even if you've been to sleep after drinking, there could still be high levels of alcohol in your system, and this could be enough to put you well over the drink driving limit.
The safest and best advice is to avoid alcohol completely the night before you have to drive.
Whether it’s OK to drive the next morning depends on a lot of different factors, including how much you drank and if you've left enough time for your body to get rid of the alcohol.
The amount of alcohol in your bloodstream depends on a few things, including the amount you take in, over what period of time and the speed at which your body gets rid of it.
On average, alcohol is removed from the body at the rate of about one unit an hour.1,2
But this varies from person to person. It depends on your size, whether you are male or female, how much food you’ve eaten, the state of your liver, and your metabolism (how quickly or slowly your body turns food into energy).3
There’s nothing you can do to speed up the rate alcohol leaves your system. Having a cup of coffee or a cold shower won’t do anything to get rid of the alcohol. You might feel slightly different, but you won’t have eliminated the alcohol in any way.
The only way to eliminate alcohol from the body is to let time pass.
There are strict limits on the amount of alcohol allowed in your system to be able to drive, with a lower limit in Scotland than England, Wales and Northern Ireland. You can check the drink drive limits in the different parts of the UK here.
Even small amounts of alcohol can affect your ability to drive, and there is no fool-proof way to drink and stay within the limit. The advice from the police is clear: avoid alcohol altogether if you plan to drive.
Because there is no way to speed up how long your body takes to process any alcohol in your system, there’s no fail-safe way to guarantee all the alcohol you have drunk will be gone by the time you wake up the next day.
Don’t take any risks. If you’re not sure, don’t drive.
Last Reviewed: 28th October 2021
Next Review due: 28th October 2024