DEKRA safety tips for the carnival season

Drunk today, drunk tomorrow

Feb 15, 2017
  • Residual alcohol is underestimated by many.
  • If you are involved in an accident, you are a criminal offender if your blood alcohol concentration is 0.3 or higher.
  • Take care to properly plan your trip to and from the carnival event.
Under no circumstances should anyone enjoying the fun of carnival drive a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. A blood alcohol concentration as low as 0.5 can lead to a ¤500 fine, two points on your license and a one-month driving ban. And what people frequently underestimate are the residual alcohol levels the morning after.

“Alcohol and driving do not go together at all,” says Thomas Wagner, a traffic psychologist at DEKRA. “Even small amounts of alcohol impair reactions and make drivers more likely to take risks.” A blood alcohol concentration of 0.5 doubles the risk of a driver being involved in an accident, with this figure rising to four at 0.8 and more than ten at 1.1.

People who return home late after partying into the early hours often underestimate the after-effects of alcohol. If you still have a blood alcohol concentration of 1.5 at four in the morning, you must wait until the afternoon (around 10 to 15 hours) until the residual alcohol has completely disappeared. So if you are partying really hard, it is best to take the next day off.

“In euphoric situations like ‘Fasching’, it can be hard to keep a check on your alcohol intake. Your good intentions often disappear with the very first drop you take. Hence my advice: better not to do things by halves and leave the car at home.” That means you have to properly plan your trip to and from whatever event you are attending, for example using a taxi, public transport, by foot, having someone pick you up, or a designated driver who remains absolutely dry.

And if even your designated driver is tempted to have “one for the road”, they should remember that any driver involved in an accident and whose blood alcohol concentration is as low as 0.3 is regarded as a criminal offender in the eyes of the law. The consequences include losing your driving license for six months to five years, loss of insurance and a fine equal to one month's pay. Wagner: “An expensive price to pay for one moment of happiness.”

Younger drivers in particular are at risk. In 2015, 44.3% of drunk drivers involved in accidents resulting in personal injury were aged 35 or younger.

DEKRA tips: how to enjoy carnival safely
  • During carnival, the best thing to do is leave the car at home.
  • Make sure that you properly plan your trip to and from the event: take a taxi or public transport to get there and back, have someone pick you up or go by foot.
  • Alternatively, appoint a designated driver who remains absolutely dry.
  • Don't forget about residual alcohol: the body only breaks down 0.1 to 0.15 per mille of alcohol per hour. It takes 10 to 15 hours for your body to break down a blood alcohol concentration of 1.5 completely.
  • If you party into the small hours of the morning, it's better to take the next day off and not to operate any machinery.

Throughout Germany, DEKRA employs more than 100 medical and psychological experts at over 40 officially recognized assessment bodies for drivers' aptitude. These experts also deal with the experiences of drunk drivers who have a criminal record.