Drink driving

Six myths about drink driving in NI

By Darren Duncan LLB
of McConnell Kelly solicitors

Myth 1. I have only had two drinks

We have all heard it said or might have even thought it ourselves.

Your limit will not be dictated by how much you have drunk but how much alcohol is in your system at the time of detection. Everyone’s body absorbs alcohol differently. It can depend on:-

  • Whether you are male or female
  • Your age
  • Your weight
  • How much you have eaten
  • Whether you are on medication.

There is no golden rule as to how many drinks you can safely consume and be below the drink driving limit.


Myth 2: I slept since drinking

Simply having a sleep is not going to magically mean your body has processed all the alcohol you consumed the night before.

This will depend on the amount of alcohol you drank and how long you slept.

It is not simply safe to drive the next morning on the basis that you have had sleep. If you have any doubt simply make the decision not to drive the next morning.


Myth 3: Coffee will help

This may make you feel more alert but it does not mean that your body has processed the alcohol consumed.

Unfortunately you will still be as drunk as before you drank the coffee. This is not the magic cure.


Myth 4: If I pretend to blow into the machine it won’t pick up the alcohol in my breath

Modern machines have software in them to detect the pressure to ensure you are blowing hard enough and for long enough. This is to ensure a satisfactory sample is obtained and the breath being sampled is from deep within your lungs.

Any failure by you to provide a sample, by whatever means, could lead to you being charged with “failing to provide a specimen of breath”, and if convicted receive an automatic ban from driving.

It may also lead to a lengthier disqualification on the basis the Court was not in a position to be informed as to the exact level of alcohol in your body due to the failure to provide the sample.


Myth 5: I have had something to eat

Simply having a meal with alcohol does not mean you can consume more alcohol safely nor that you are in a position to drive sooner. The consumption of a meal may slow down the absorption of alcohol into your system but again there is no guarantee as to whether you will be safe to drive.


Myth 6: I was only sitting in the car

There is a specific offence of “being in charge” of a motor vehicle. For this offence you do not have to be driving the vehicle. It can be extremely risky for example for someone to sit in their vehicle with the keys in their possession waiting on a lift or for a taxi to arrive.

If a Court were to find an “intention to drive” this could lead to a conviction and possible disqualification from driving.


  • In trouble with the law for a motoring offence? It’s vital to get a solicitor involved at the earliest possible opportunity. Darren Duncan, a director of McConnell Kelly solicitors, one of the leading criminal law firms in Northern Ireland, is an expert on NI’s unique motoring legislation. Contact: info@mcconnellkelly.com or call 028 9147 9900.