Alcohol Lessons Note

Driving under the influence of alcohol is illegal and will incur substantial penalties. Alcohol affects your driving skills significantly and as a consequence increases crash risk - in fact, drink driving is one of the leading causes of road fatalities.

Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) is a measure of the amount of alcohol in your blood. BAC is the number of grams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood. (0.05 BAC = 0.05 grams alcohol/100 ml of blood).

Driving under the influence of alcohol

The relative risk of crashing increases dramatically as your BAC increases - a BAC of 0.05 doubles the risk of crashing.

Remember that alcohol stays in your system for a while and that many drivers test above 0 BAC the morning after drinking.

About half of all crashes on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights are alcohol-related.

Don't risk crashing because you're driving while impaired by alcohol

The safest BAC is always 0. To avoid drink driving if you know that you will be drinking:

  • Leave the car at home
  • Stay overnight at a friend’s place
  • Plan ahead and arrange alternatives (e.g. taxi, public transport or a designated driver)
  • Discourage friends or family from driving if they’ve been drinking

How does alcohol affect your driving?

Alcohol is a depressant that affects your driving ability by:

  • Making you tired
  • Making you overconfident and risk-taking
  • Reducing your ability to cope with several things simultaneously, such as responding to traffic signals or avoiding pedestrians on the road.
  • Reducing your ability to judge distances
  • Reducing your ability to judge your own and others’ speed
  • Slowing your brain functions and reflexes

Don’t drink and drive!

What’s the BAC limit?

Depending on your licence class, the BAC limits are slightly different.

0.00 BAC limit:

For learner, P1 and P2 drivers the BAC level is 0.00. This means you must not drive after having consumed any alcohol at all.

0.02 BAC limit:

For selected other drivers (i.e. dangerous goods drivers and coach drivers) the BAC limit is 0.02.

0.05 BAC limit:

For full licence holders, the BAC limit is 0.05.

What are the penalties for drink driving?

The penalties for drink driving offences depend on the severity, i.e. the BAC detected and may include:

  • Heavy fines and demerit points
  • Possible jail time
  • A disqualification period that can last up to a lifetime
  • Licence suspension

What is BAC affected by?

There are many different ways in which alcohol affects people. Some of the factors affecting the BAC level include:

  • type of alcohol - the greater the alcoholic content of the drink(s), and the faster you drink, the quicker you will reach a higher BAC
  • the time since the last meal - studies have shown that food slows down the avsorption of alchol. This means that if you drink on an empty stomach, you will reach a higher BAC faster than if you had a large meal before drinking
  • condition and health - depending on you health, the body may be more or less able to process the alcohol you drink
  • body size - a person of large build and one of a small build drinking the same amount will result in a higher BAC for the smaller build
  • gender - a woman and a man of equal size drinking the same amount of alcohol will result in a higher BAC for the woman

Also, drinking the same amount of alcohol on different days can result in different BAC levels.

People in this room will have a different BAC level even if they drink the same amount

How can I reduce the BAC level?

There are several things which can make a person feel more alert, but all fail to reduce the BAC level in your blood. The BAC level won’t be affected by coffee, a meal, fresh air, showers or even by throwing up. It might make you feel better, but doesn’t sober you up!

The only thing that will sober you up is time.

Keep in mind that if you had a lot to drink the night before, you are likely to still have alcohol in your blood the next morning, and sometimes even the next afternoon. A common mistake people make is to assume that a few hours of sleep will get rid of the alcohol in your blood.

Taking a car to a friends place for a night involving heavy drinking means you will likely need to take a taxi back home the next morning.

Breath/blood testing

Police conduct random breath tests across NSW that are meant to detect and deter drink driving. If selected, you must blow into a testing device that gives an indication of the BAC level in your blood. If over the limit, you will be charged.

Drivers who are admitted to a hospital after any kind of road accident are required to provide a blood sample or to take a breath test.

Refusal to take blood tests/breath tests is an offence, and penalties include fines, loss of licence and imprisonment.

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