How long drivers should wait before getting behind the wheel after a drink – including 5 HOURS for a glass of wine

A COUPLE of hours might seem like enough for a tipple to wear off, but it actually takes a lot longer than you might think.

Experts have warned boozy Brits it can take five hours for the alcohol to leave your system after just one drink.

It is widely believed that 12 hours is enough to stabilise your blood alcohol concentration (BAC), but in many cases this is nowhere near enough.

One pint of lager takes 3.5 hours to wear off, while cider takes four.

Partygoers should wait 2.5 hours after a single gin or standard glass of champagne – but wine takes twice as long.

Five hours should have passed after a large glass of vino for it to be safe to get behind the wheel.

And more than one means you are well over the limit and need to sleep it off overnight.

The sobering statistics were put together by Vanarama.

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The car leasing company also carried out a study which found 10 million drivers could unknowingly drive under the influence of alcohol this Christmas.

Almost a third of UK drivers were unaware that a glass of champagne with their roast would put them over the limit in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, while 22 per cent had no idea drinking two small glasses of wine would also make getting behind the wheel illegal.

It is always safest to avoid driving altogether after drinking any amount of alcohol, but Vanarama listed several other ways to help Brits stay safe.

This includes sticking to booze-free alternatives like mocktails and 0 per cent beers, as well as eating before drinking to slow the absorption of alcohol.

Having a soft drink or glass of water between every drink or at regular intervals can also help.

But in any case, it is important to give your body plenty of time to process the alcohol the following day.

Even if you don't plan to drive yourself anywhere, motorists can be fined £2,500 for simply standing next to their cars while drunk.

Being over the limit simply in the vicinity of your vehicle can also see you thrown behind bars for three months.


  • Large glass of wine – 5 hours
  • Sex on the beach cocktail – 4 hours
  • Double vodka – 4 hours
  • Pint of cider – 4 hours
  • Long island iced tea – 3.5 hours
  • Pint of lager – 3.5 hours
  • Pina colada – 3 hours
  • Standard glass of champagne – 2.5 hours
  • Single gin – 2.5 hours

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