Nearly eight million motorists consider driving over the limit this Christmas

  • ​Nearly a fifth (19%) of drivers will risk losing their licence for being 'slightly over the limit' this Christmas
  • A quarter of UK drivers would knowingly get in a car with a driver who has been drinking
  • One in 20 Drivers (4%) will get into the driving seat after having four or more alcoholic drinks
  • UK drivers find December to be the most dangerous month on the road due to a higher risk of drink drivers 

Getting in the festive spirit with Christmas cocktails and parties, it's easy for one drink to quickly become three. However, a survey by Auto Trader, the UK's largest marketplace for new and used cars, discovered that nearly eight million (7,687,830.92) motorists 'only slightly over the limit' will choose to get behind the wheel this Christmas. Risking losing their licence and potentially much worse.

With the DVLA showing over 40 million full driving licences registered in the UK (C. 40,462,268), eight million drivers getting in the driving seat whilst being over the limit is a worrying stat. And it;s no wonder that December is the month most UK drivers believe is the most dangerous, with 65% saying they felt more at risk of drink drivers in this month compared to the rest of the year.

Whilst 87% of those surveyed said they wouldn’t be more likely to drink and drive during the festive season, a quarter of us (25%) have climbed into the passenger seat knowing the driver has had more than the legal limit.

Confusion over the safe number of units is the main reason why so many motorists are driving under the influence. In the Auto Trader survey, 39% of drivers surveyed believe that one unit is still below the legal limit, whereas 32% thought two units was safe, and a further 7% thought three units would still be fine if stopped and asked to take a breathalyzer test.

Confusion over the safe number of units is the main reason why so many motorists are driving under the influence. In the Auto Trader survey, 39% of drivers surveyed believe that one unit is still below the legal limit, whereas 32% thought two units was safe, and a further 7% thought three units would still be fine if stopped and asked to take a breathalyzer test. Shockingly, 4% of motorists surveyed admitted to driving after consuming four or more alcoholic drinks, which can severely impair their driving, making them a very high-risk for accidents and even fatalities.

The advice and penalties for drink driving are clear, yet motorists surveyed still felt it was something they can chance. Reasons for considering drink driving varied from a low risk of being caught (30%), the units system being too complicated to understand (31%),to nearly a third (32%) saying they weren’t sure if they were over the limit or not. Nearly a fifth (19%) were happy to get into the driving seat despite being ‘only slightly over the limit’, which can still be met with severe repercussions if caught by the police.

The repercussions for being caught over the limit also seem to have drivers confused, with views on the punishments for drink driving varying from receiving a ‘few’ points, to serving up to six months in prison. The survey found that only two fifths (38%) of drivers knew the correct punishment enforced for drink driving offences. 

A spokesperson for Auto Trader, said: “The festive season is one of the most sociable, but this research highlights concerns of a higher risk of drink driving during this time of a year, as well as a worrying lack of clarity amongst drivers on the current advice and punishments for drink driving.”

“When it comes to getting behind the wheel, the safest number of units is zero. So if you’re planning on picking up the keys - we’d advise all drivers to stick to soft drinks - which carries no risk of breaking the law or putting lives in jeopardy as a result of drink driving.”

The UK representative survey was executed by Maru Group on Monday 10th December 2018, surveying 2039 UK respondens. Of this survey, 2000 respondents were certified as drivers and only their responses were collected as part of this research. In July 2018, the total number of driving licences registered with the DVLA was 48,594,446 (according to the Department of Transport). The total number of full driving licences registered was 40,462,268 with 8,132,178 provisional licences being held. Statistical data from the survey has been applied to the DVLA data to indicate impact of survey findings on the number of motorists on the road across the UK, giving a representative reflection on the opinions of UK motorists.