Common alcohol questions

3 Apr

Here’s a few common general knowledge alcohol questions that tend to come up:

1. What is the legal limit for drinking and driving?

A classic – and often starts a rush of speculation as to whether one or two ‘drinks’ is legal. But the legal drink drive limit is not measured in drinks, or even units of alcohol. It is also not to be confused with a ‘safe limit’ – a contradiction in terms as any amount of alcohol could have a negative impact on driving abilities.

The legal alcohol limit for drivers in Great Britain is:

  • Breath Alcohol Content (BrAC): 35 microgrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath
  • Blood Alcohol Content (BAC): 80 milligrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood
  • Urine alcohol content: 107 microgrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of urine

See here for Direct.gov limits and penalties and drink driving advice (don’t do it!).

2. Do pubs and drinking establishments display the units of drinks and if not why can’t they be legislated to do so

Licensed premises are not by law required to display unit information, however there are commitments to improve information on units including the labelling of glasses and bottles themselves as part of Government’s controversial Responsibility Deal.

Under the Responsibility Deal, business that have signed up have agreed to:

“provide simple and consistent information in the on-trade (e.g. pubs and clubs), to raise awareness of the unit content of alcoholic drinks”.

One of the main commitments is for industry to achieve clear unit labelling on over 80% of alcohol by 2013. The Government  has not stated what action it will take if this is not met – groups such as Alcohol Concern have warned that voluntary action has not delivered in the past.

3. Why do men and women exhibit some differences when it comes to Alcohol Health Risks?

Men and women’s bodies are made up of different ratios of water, muscle and blood, so as a general rule women are more affected by alcohol. This is why women have a lower recommended guideline for low risk consumption. In general, women have around 9% less body water than men of similar body weight, so higher concentrations of alcohol would be in a woman’s blood after drinking equivalent amounts of alcohol.

Whilst men and women are at equal risk of certain conditions if going above the guidelines, some conditions have greater risk. For instance, a man or woman who regularly drinks more than double their recommended guideline would equally be increasing their risk of liver disease by around 13 times. However a man would be increasing his risk of stroke by 2 times drinking at this level, whereas the risk for a woman would be increased 4 fold. However men are more at-risk from conditions such as high blood pressure or depression.

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