A festive moment, a night out with friends or a professional event: some occasions lead you to consume alcohol before you need to get back on the road. Apart from the risk of a police check and a fine (or even losing your licence!) it is your safety and that of other road users that is at stake. The legal limit is 0.5g of alcohol per litre of blood or 0.22mg of alcohol per litre of exhaled air. So, if you’ve consumed alcoholic drinks, it’s imperative that you don't drive.
What are the solutions?
If you’ve anticipated the festivities, you may have planned to stay over on site or booked a nearby hotel room. Another solution is to have a designated driver, known in Belgium as a BOB. You probably know this character. BOB is the one who makes the responsible choice not to drink in order to drive everyone home safely.
Professional driver services are an alternative way to go home safely, even if you need to pick up your vehicle the next day.
You can also call on the non-profit Responsible Young Drivers (RYD) which offers various services, the most well-known of which is that of returning home after New Year. Volunteers drive citizens in their own vehicles back to their homes, in complete safety and in compliance with Covid19 hygiene measures (wearing a mask is compulsory).
What are the consequences?
We asked an insurance office a few questions and here is what Charles Blistin of Assurances Blistin SRL replied.
What happens in the event of an accident for which you are to blame, when you are checked for alcohol by the police and are over the legal limit? Or, if you are in a similar state due to taking drugs or medication?
The insurer will have the right to seek recourse against you to recover its expenses. In other words, your insurer will ask you to reimburse its expenses as well as to compensate the victim. However, the amount of the appeal is limited to a maximum amount of €31,000.
In addition, if you have comprehensive cover, the insurer will not cover damage to your vehicle if it can prove a causal link between the accident and your blood alcohol level (or similar).
Finally, the insurance company will often terminate your contract and it will be difficult to find a new insurer. The rating bureau offers a solution that covers the legal minimum. This organisation will provide a third-party insurance offer if at least 3 insurers refuse to insure you.
Can I call on a driver/company to accompany me using my car? Is this authorised by my insurer?
Some insurers provide additional insurance to cover the vehicle if you are accompanied by a BOB (designated driver). If you do not have comprehensive cover, this insurance will be useful to you.
Some insurers also cover their clients if they use a BOB (designated driver). It is worth taking the time to check with your broker whether this is covered in your current policy.
Am I covered in the event of legal problems?
If you are prosecuted, a vehicle-specific legal expenses insurance policy will cover the costs of your lawyer's defence. However, this cover is limited to the intervention limit stated in your policy.
There are different types of legal insurance contracts, from the most basic to the most extensive. You should therefore check on the extent of your cover.
It may also serve to defend your interests against your insurer who wishes to take action against you.
However, no insurance policy will reimburse you for a fine related to an offence.