A Driving Instructor's Blog

This time of year, all the newspapers are filled to the brim with stories about alcohol – primarily because it’s also the time when the police launch their Christmas and New Year drink drive campaigns.

If you search the internet, just about every source says that body mass affects direct alcohol absorption, and that generally, smaller people will be affected by less alcohol than larger people. The sources in question are reputable, and include scientific references. This one, for example, is by the Indiana School of Medicine and it says:

There are gender differences in body composition, with women having a lower proportion of total body water compared to men, even if they have the same weight. Thus, if a woman and a man, who both have the same weight, consume the same amount of alcohol, the woman would achieve higher blood alcohol levels compared to the man.

And the American National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) says:

Regardless of how much a person consumes, the body can only metabolize a certain amount of alcohol every hour (2). That amount varies widely among individuals and depends on a range of factors, including liver size (1) and body mass.

These are just two examples I quickly found via Google – there are many, many more all saying more or less the same thing. That’s why people frequently talk of body mass when they refer to how quickly someone can get drunk. What you’ve eaten, and how much, also affects alcohol absorption.

So it comes as a bit of a surprise to see a story in the newsfeeds which says Body Size Doesn’t Affect Drink Driving Limit, Research Reveals.

In actual fact, the “research” consisted of the following:

A man weighing 11st 6lb (73kg) and just under 5ft 10in (177cm) tall and a woman weighing 9st 6lb (60kg) and 5ft 5in (165cm) were tested after consuming the same amount of alcohol.

Let me just explain that this is absolutely not “research”. It’s no better than using a questionnaire given to 10 people coming out of the local Conservative Club and using the results to determine what the outcome of a General Election would be. And it’s laughable that the Huffington Post should be so stupid as to effectively do exactly that by believing Direct Line – the people pretending to be “researchers” in this case – and reporting this utter nonsense.

Direct Line’s “data” prove absolutely nothing that could be applied to the general population.

Drinking and driving is stupid, so don’t do it. But don’t make stuff up to try and lever it.

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