Can boozy food send you over the drink-drive limit?

Christmas is a time of indulgence for many people, especially when it comes to food and drink.

Christmas is a time of indulgence for many people, especially when it comes to food and drink.

The dangers of drinking too much before driving are obvious, but every Christmas motorists are urged to be careful in case their love for boozy food pushes them over the drink-drive limit.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

In recent years some studies have claimed that just a couple of helpings of Christmas pudding or trifle are enough to land you in trouble with the law if you get behind the wheel. Others claim it’s nonsense and you’re good to go, no matter how many chocolate liqueurs you guzzle.

Now two new studies claim to have come up with the answer - which is that it’s technically possible to eat yourself over the drink-drive limit but you’re far more likely to be sick from overeating first.

Breath tests and drink-drive convictions rise at this time of year (Photo: Shutterstock)

The studies looked at the drink-drive limit around the UK - 22 microgrammes of alcohol in 100ml of breath in Scoland,  35mcg/100ml everywhere else, translated this into a rough measure of units of alcohol (an average of 3.5) and compared this with a host of popular boozy recipes from famous names such as Mary Berry and Nigella Lawson, including tiramisu, trifle, and, of course, Christmas pudding.

Even using the more boozy of the tiramisu recipes - from Nigella - you’d have to eat the entire family-sized dish before you’d worry the breathalyser. Her recipe, picked out by Uswitch, uses 100ml of Irish cream liqueur, equivalent to four units. With a less alcohol-heavy interpretation, such as that used by Car Lease Special Offers, you’re looking at an indelible 11 to 14 portions to push you over the limit.

In theory, you could eat enough of Mary Berry’s trifle to push you over the limit but, given that it’s meant to serve 10 and you’d have to eat three-quarters of it, that seems fairly unlikely - about as unlikely as devouring six bowls of French onion soup or a gut-bursting 325 chocolate liqueurs.

And you’d have to hog more than an entire sherry-soaked Christmas pudding in order to get near the limit, with women having to consume 13 portions and men 17.

You'd have to eat a lot of trifle to get near the limit (Photo: Shutterstock)

You might think a hearty coq au vin could put you on dangerous ground, given that it’s even got wine in its name, but even then, the studies estimate you’d need anywhere between three and 15 portions, depending on the recipe. That’s thanks to the effects of cooking on alcohol.

A study by the US department of agriculture found that dishes cooked at above 78 degrees Celcius will burn off between 60 and 95 per cent of the alcohol depending on how long they’re cooked for.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

And before you get any ideas that you can eat enough mince pies to get close to the limit, you can’t. Believe us, we’ve tried.

Commenting on the research, Uswitch car insurance expert, Florence Codjoe, said: “Despite these dishes containing alcohol, when eaten in moderation it’s highly unlikely you will fail a breathalyser test in the event you are stopped by the police. However, if you are considering drinking alcohol before driving, you must stay under the limit or you could invalidate your car insurance, face a hefty fine, points on your licence, or even have your licence revoked.”