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I learned the alcohol level rules the hard way: now learn from me

SIR – As a driver who is in the middle of a ban for drink-driving, I would like to pass on the calculations for alcohol-free driving that are put forward at the rehabilitation classes I am attending.

The basis of the calculation is to know the number of units of alcohol that were consumed. Many manufacturers now print this on their alcoholic product, but if not, one unit equals a pub measure of spirit, half a pint of normal strength beer or lager or a 125ml glass of wine of about 9% proof. Home size measures of spirits, premium strength beers and higher proof wines contain higher unit levels.

Having established the number of units consumed, the drinker should add 30 minutes to his drink starting time (the time for the body to start processing the alcohol) and then add one hour for each unit consumed to calculate when his body will be alcohol free.

Because of their physical make-up, a female should add one and a half hours per unit consumed. As an example, a man who starts drinking at 8pm and drinks five pints of Stella Artois (three units per pint) would not be alcohol free until 11.30am the next day. A woman drinking the same 15 units would not be alcohol free until 7pm the next day.

These calculations are a guideline only, with units and time rounded in the ‘safe’ direction for the driver.

However if more alcohol is consumed before the body has processed the units from the previous drinking session, the new units must be added to unprocessed units in this calculation, as time is the only way to remove alcohol from the body.

Drinking coffee, sleeping, exercising or eating doesn’t speed up the process.

Hopefully, this will give some drivers food for thought. I felt I would easily pass a breath test after two-and-a-half pints of Stella – it has cost me an 18 month ban and £400 fine plus the loss of my company car.

Details supplied

Readers join red tape debate

Sir – I read with interest your article regarding red tape, especially the section that related to Euro 4 compliant cars. After many telephone calls and e-mails, the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency sent me a reply that shows compliance can be recorded on the registration document.

It stated that the manufacturer provides the Euro 4 category for a vehicle at the time of first registration.

The DVLA said this information will be located on the V5 registration document under Section D and will be the first five characters of the version field (it will state EURO4). One of our employees was told by the Inland Revenue that unless the registration document stated that their vehicle was Euro 4 compliant, they would not be able to claim the lower BIK rate.

Steve West Kerridge Computer Company

Ed – This is a very serious issue for fleet decision-makers, as the V5 should prove whether a car is Euro IV or not, with the obvious reduction in BIK tax. Although the plan was for the V5 document to show this information, that is not happening in many cases. Fleet managers throughout the country have complained about this problem.

The DVLA states that if the vehicle engine is Euro IV compliant but the manufacturer has not recorded the details on the V5 registration document, you can write to the vehicle manufacturer requesting confirmation that the Vehicle is Euro IV compliant on a headed letter from them. You must then send this letter into the DVLA, Swansea with a covering letter explaining the situation. The details can then be added to the V5. If the DVLA had dealt with this more effectively, this extra bureaucracy could have been avoided.

SIR – We are fortunate in having a very good insurance broker who ensures we comply with the insurance listing and other matters relating to insurance. Also, as we contract hire our vehicles, the leasing company notifies us of speeding and other traffic offences.

What does take the time is compliance with health and safety regulations and protection against legal claims – duty of care issues.

Time spent in forming policies, education, ensuring the employees are keeping records when required, checking MoTs, checking driving licences, checking partners’ driving licences and taking what action is necessary to minimise the possible liability of the company in respect of its car fleet.

Richard Warner Company secretary Seco Tools (UK)

Should sports bikes have a place in fleet industry?

Sir – As a person who rides a motorbike regularly, I am pretty keen to see anything that promotes this side of our industry and I am a firm believer that there is a place for bikes over cars.

But please don’t make the same mistake as one of your competitors who tried to do a similar type of thing, but will remain nameless, and show a person dressed in full leathers hurtling around a corner on a sports bike.

A picture that I personally believe would send fear into any manager.

Bikes can be linked with any industry where employees need to make safe progress while commuting through areas of heavy congestion, especially if they avoid a congestion charge, and this is achieved on what I would describe as sensible touring/commuting machines which have panniers for taking files, cases, laptops and so on.

Sports bikes have a place, but this has to be for summer evenings and weekend ride-outs.

Derek Cox Transport manager ESCC

Ed – A fair point made, but I’d have to point out that, like it or not, there are many fast sports bikes out there provided with company money. Emap, publisher of Fleet News, owns several motorcycling titles and quite a few of our executives have a company car and a fast company bike too.

SIR – I recently received two penalty charge notices for the congestion charge from Transport For London that were 12 months old. When this was queried with TFL, we were told that it has up to SIX years in which to claim these fines – but strange that we only have 14 days to pay before penalties apply.

In this instance I was unable to claim the money back from our driver as he had since left the company.

Name and address supplied

Fleet News is delighted to receive readers’ letters. Email fleetnews@emap.com or write to the editor at Fleet News, EMAP Automotive, Media House, Lynchwood, Peterborough Business Park, Peterborough PE2 6EA. Please ensure that emails and letters include name, job title and company address.

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