One drink could be one too many, research concludes
Search Driven for vehicles for sale
A single drink could be enough to affect a driver’s safety on the road, experts have warned.
Even low levels of drinking, such as one pint of beer or a large glass of wine considerably hamper a driver’s ability to function, the neuroscientists have found.
Dr Silvana De Pirro, of the University of Sussex in the UK, said there is a "compelling case" that one drink can "significantly compromise" an individual’s sense of control.
She added: "This has important implications for legal and social responsibility of drivers, and begs the question: are current alcohol limits for driving truly safe?"
The drink-drive limits in England and Wales are 350 micrograms per litre of breath and 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood. That is usually the equivalent of two pints of average-strength beer, or a large glass of average-strength wine.
In New Zealand the limits are lower. For drivers aged 20 and over they're 250 micrograms of alcohol per litre of breath and 50mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood.
Most research into how drinking affects behaviour has focused on the loss of inhibition, impulsiveness and aggression drunkenness can trigger.
The University of Sussex study - published in journal Addiction Biology – is the first of its kind to look at how low amounts of alcohol can affect how much drinkers feel in control of their actions.
Subjects were given cocktails containing amounts of alcohol below the legal driving limit in England and Wales, with results showing overconfidence in driving ability and potentially risky behaviour were more common, even with low levels of alcohol.
Even blood alcohol levels below the legal limit created an "impairment" in how in-control subjects felt over their own actions.
Professor Aldo Badiani, of the Sussex Addiction Research and Intervention Centre, said: "It’s important to note that in our experiments, all the participants stayed within the legal alcohol limit for driving in England, Wales, the US and Canada.
"And yet we still saw an impairment in their feeling of being in control.
"In England, Wales and North America, the argument to lower the limit has much momentum. The results of our study support the implementation of such a change in the law."