Only having one drink is the most common excuse heard for drink-driving, a new survey suggests.

Three out of five (62%) respondents to a poll of more than 12,000 AA members said people have used that reason to justify getting behind the wheel after consuming alcohol.

Other frequent excuses heard are claiming food will “soak up the alcohol” (41%), only driving a short distance (40%) and “it’s been a while” since their last drink (31%).

Police forces across the UK are conducting their annual December crackdown on drink-driving amid the Christmas party season.

AA Charitable Trust director Edmund King said: “Just one drink can be enough to put you over the drink-drive limit, and even if you are within the limit, it can still affect your judgment and ability to drive safely.

“We need drivers to hang up these excuses for good. Drinking and driving simply do not mix – if you are doing one, then you shouldn’t do the other.

“Drivers risk more than just a fine or losing their licence when they drink-drive. Every year hundreds of people needlessly die on our roads because of drunk drivers.

“Everyone wants to enjoy Christmas. Don’t let your ‘only one’ drink be your last.”

Latest Department for Transport figures show fatalities from drink-drive crashes are at a 12-year high.

An estimated 260 people were killed in collisions on Britain’s roads involving a driver over the alcohol limit in 2021 – the highest annual total since 2009.

The drink-drive limit in England, Wales and Northern Ireland is 80mg of alcohol in 100ml of blood.

Nowhere else in Europe has a limit above 50mg/100ml, and the Scottish Government reduced its limit to that level in 2014.

People convicted of drink-driving face being disqualified for at least a year and an unlimited fine. Offenders can be sent to prison in the most serious cases.

The survey was carried out by research company Yonder in November.