ALMOST three in 10 drivers are putting lives at risk by driving the morning after a night of heavy drinking, says a survey.
Some 28% of 1,000 drivers admitted doing so in the survey by Huddersfield road safety charity Brake and breakdown service Green Flag Motoring Assistance.
The survey comes after recent Transport Department figures showed that the number of casualties caused by drinking and driving on UK roads rose from 14,980 in 1993 to 20,140 in 2002.
Brake chief executive Mary Williams said: "It is extremely frightening to know there are drivers putting lives at risk because they simply don't realise they are still unfit to drive the morning after a heavy night of drinking.
"Sleeping, showering and drinking a cup of coffee do not sober you up.
"We want drivers to know there is no excuse to get behind the wheel if they still feel unfit to drive.
"The message is simple. If you know you have to drive the next morning, don't risk drinking the night before at all."
Melanie Denny, from Green Flag, said: "It is essential that drivers understand how long alcohol stays in the blood.
"It is clear from our research that some are still putting themselves and others at risk by driving only a few hours after drinking heavily."
A separate survey by Churchill Insurance showed that while one in three motorists admits to drinking more alcohol in the summer, as many as 91% do not know the legal drink-drive limit.
Also, most drivers were unaware that many pubs now serve larger-than-usual measures - such as large glasses of wine.
The legal limit for drinking and driving is 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood. But some people can reach that limit after two units of alcohol (one standard glass of wine) while for others it can be almost double that amount.
The Churchill survey also showed:
* 10% of motorists are tempted to drink more due to special drink promotions, such as `buy two glasses of wine, get the bottle free'.
* Younger drivers (18 to 29 years old) are more than twice as likely to be tempted by these offers than the average UK motorist.
* Only 21% of regular wine drinkers know what the standard glass is.
* Just 10% of regular spirit drinkers know what the standard measure of spirits is.
A Churchill spokesman said: "It is becoming increasingly apparent that drivers do not know the boundaries for drinking and driving.
"This means drivers could be flouting the law without realising it.
"On top of the obvious dangers of driving while over the limit, a drink- driving conviction can increase your insurance premium and, in some cases, make it hard to get insurance at all."