Tearing open my Christmas presents like a rabid animal, I held the most unusual one up to the light. ‘Thanks, Mum- but, what is it?’ The item in my hand resembled a Nokia phone from 2002, and could have been offered to a museum as a historical artefact.
‘It’s a breathalyser.’ She replied, not looking up from her new gloves with pom poms on them. I stared at it, slightly offended at the thought of my own Mother assuming I was going to be getting behind the wheel after one too many G&Ts. ‘For the mornings.’ She continued. Ah. Now it made sense. In the past, when everyone in my year first started driving (except me, who passed my test at the grand age of 21) it came to my attention that it was a fairly regular thing for people to sleep in their cars after nights out, as it was cheaper than a taxi. This inevitably led to them driving home probably too early, when they still had a little bit of alcohol in their systems. It’s just not really something that crossed their minds, I had been told. When people first start their life as a driver, they’re inexperienced and can be over-confident, and this can sometimes lead to devastation. Most people, including myself, have presumed that sleeping for a couple of hours can get rid of booze from your system, when it can in fact remain there for hours. The morning after can be just as dangerous as driving on the night.
ANYWHO, it occurred to me that it would probably be interesting to sit at home and try the breathalyser out (I do not lead an interesting life) to see how much booze it would take for it to tell me I was over the limit. Armed with my miniature gin set from my sister and some orange juice, I poured myself what could only be described as under half a measure. After taking two sips, I gave the trusty breathalyser a try. To my utter horror, it immediately flashed up with a warning symbol, telling me I had 0.5% alcohol in my system. After drinking half of the drink, I was over the legal limit to drive, which came accompanied with a flashing symbol of a car with a cross over it.
I didn’t feel even remotely tipsy, yet would have been arrested if I was driving and somebody pulled me over. Imagine, your license taken off you forever because you didn’t fancy a Diet Coke. It’s come to my attention that, as I have got older, lots of people I know assume that they know their own limits, and know how much they can drink before they drive instead of drinking nothing at all. A glass of wine here, a couple of pints there, they still feel fine but it would legally not be ok. The truth is, you can never know, the best bet is to just play it safe. My little Nokia phone breathalyser made me suddenly realise that, even though I had never even had one drink and driven, that it would never be worth it. No matter what kind of booze it was or how urgent my need to drive was, there would never be a good enough reason. So guys, not to sound horrifically patronising, but before you set off home when you’re hungover, ask for a lift. Because you never know! But definitely ask for a breathalyser for Christmas next year.