There are strict laws governing alcohol consumption in the UK.

It is against the law:

  • to be drunk in charge of a child under seven in a public place or on licensed premises
  • to sell alcohol to someone under 18, anywhere
  • for an adult to buy or attempt to buy alcohol on behalf of someone under 18
  • for someone under 18 to buy alcohol, attempt to buy alcohol or to be sold alcohol in any circumstances (unless acting at the request of the police or a weights and measures inspector)
  • for someone under 18 to drink alcohol in licensed premises, with one exception - 16 and 17 year olds accompanied by an adult can drink but not buy beer, wine and cider with a table meal
  • for an adult to buy alcohol for a person under 18 for consumption on licensed premises, except as above.

Drinking in public

Some towns have alcohol-free zones where nobody can drink in public. Even where these aren’t in place the police can take away alcohol or move young people on if they have been drinking. They could even be fined or arrested.

Drink driving

Remember - you can still be over the limit the morning after and there is now a much greater chance that drink-drivers will be caught, since breath testing methods have advanced dramatically over recent years.

Statistics show that drinking and driving has decreased since the 1980's but despite the reduction, one in seven road deaths is a result of a drink-drive related collision.

The police can stop anyone if they think they are driving with too much alcohol in their body. If stopped, the driver will be asked to take a breathalyser test to measure the amount of alcohol in their breath.

If the test is positive, the driver will be arrested and taken to a police station for further tests – possibly involving blood and urine. It is illegal to refuse to give a sample when asked.

If you are found to be over the limit, the consequences could include:

  • An increase in car insurance costs
  • Job loss
  • Trouble getting into countries such as USA

The law defines ‘unfit’ as having:

  • over 80 milligrams (mg) of alcohol per 100 millilitres (ml) of blood
  • over 35 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of breath
  • over 107 mg of alcohol in 100 ml of urine

The most sensible course of action if you are going to have a drink, is to leave the car at home. Get a taxi, public transport, walk or get a lift from a sober friend. Don’t take the risk.

What are the penalties for drink driving?

Anyone convicted of drink driving will be disqualified from driving for at least 12 months and fined up to £5,000. They could even face a prison sentence of six months.