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Why do drink drivers ignore the warnings?

By Mark Andrews | Crime | Published:

Another year, another drink drive campaign – and again a hard core of motorists who will continue to ignore the message.

The Government is targeting young revellers with this year’s anti-drink drive campaign, with the message that people should intervene to stop their friends from breaking the law.

It shows a group of young people playing football with a friend’s car keys in the pub and a courting couple snatching a man’s car keys as he prepares to leave the pub.

Time to Tackle - A mate doesn't let a mate drink drive - THINK! Christmas Drink Drive advert (16:9)

The drink-drive law, which set a legal limit of 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood, was introduced in January 1966, and roadside breath-tests came along the following year.

But while the introduction of the drink drive limit has dramatically reduced the number of accidents caused by driving under the influence, there are many who do not seem to be getting the message.

Edmund King, president of the AA, says huge progress has been made since the breath-testing was introduced in the late 1960s, but admitted his frustration that the issue was still around in 2018.

He added: “Over the years we have had really hard-hitting campaigns, and attitudes have changed so it’s not socially acceptable as it was in the 1960s or 70s. But we have still got a hard core of drivers who continue to ignore the warnings.

Mr King says today’s drink drivers usually fall into one of two categories.

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On the one hand, he says there are the chancers, who take a risk based on the likelihood of getting caught.

“These are the people who will take a chance, they think if they avoid the high street, and take a quiet rural road, they are unlikely to get stopped,” says Mr King.

“They don’t take into account they are more likely to crash, and that then they will be breath-tested and banned.”

These people, he says, can be challenged by the use of hard-hitting advertising and tough enforcement action. But he says there is another category of motorists who are much harder to reach.

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“If you look at the figures, and the debate about whether the drink-drive limit should be 50mg or 80mg, it is interesting to see that reducing the limit in Scotland has not reduced the number of fatalities.

Drink problems

“People who die in drink-driving incidents are nearly always about twice the limit. It’s not those who are just over, it’s those who are twice the limit and still persist with driving.

“In these cases, it’s not the driving, it’s the drinking, a lot of these people have drink problems. They can be banned for a year, but if they have still got a drink problem, it is not going to resolve the issue.”

Assistant Chief Constable Martin Evans of West Mercia Police says there are still people out there who feel they can gamble with drinking and driving, and that they know how much the limit is.

“Cracking down on those who take drugs or drink and then decide to drive is a year round commitment for us,” he says.

“However, we are very aware the festive season can present opportunities where people are tempted to drive under the influence.

“To combat this, extra patrols will be conducted in the run up to and over Christmas and New Year in a bid to tackle those who commit the unacceptable act of drinking or drug driving.

“The simple fact is, there is only one way of being sure that you are safe to drive and that is not to drink at all.”

This year’s campaign draws attention to the fact there is no foolproof way of calculating how much you can drink and remain under the limit.

Police say there is no way to know how long alcohol stays in the system, and for people to avoid drinking if they will be driving the following day.

Be in no doubt – police are watching out for law breakers 24 hours a day

“We are watching you day and night.” That is the message traffic officers in the Midlands as the hunt for drink-drivers is stepped up over Christmas.

And motorists have been warned about the risks of getting behind the wheel the morning after a heavy drinking session.

As if to emphasise the point, one car being driven by a suspected drink driver ended up landing vertically in a tree near a town in the Midlands.

How the car ended up after the crash. Photo: @OPUShropshire

The motorist involved lost control of her car at around 6am yesterday morning.

The car flipped and landed nose down in the tree after striking a telegraph pole.

The drama happened on a quiet B-road near Shrewsbury and police believe the motorist may have been over the limit from the night before. She was arrested after failing a roadside test, but managed to crawl out of the wreckage with minor injuries.

It is a scenario familiar with police patrolling our region’s roads, especially at this time of year.

Drivers are being caught out by police during mornings when many think they are fit to drive after a night’s sleep. But Sergeant Jon Butler today warned that is not the case and those who risk it could end up losing their licence.

Sergeant Butler, of West Midlands Police, said: “We have had a few arrests early, from 7am until 9am, people who are over the limit from the night before. We have also had arrests in the afternoon rush-hour period, people who have been out after work or had a lunch-time drink.

“The message we are saying to members of the public is if you are going to drive the next day don’t drink the night before at all. It can take anything up to 12 hours to get alcohol out the system. We don’t want them behind the wheel if they have had a drink.

“We are going out on main arterial roads. There are two reasons – the flow of traffic, we need to speak to a lot of motorists, and the visible deterrent. We want people to see us in our bright yellow jackets and think ‘I’d better not have a drink’. We want people to have a good time but if you are going out leave the car at home.

“Usually there is a spike at weekends but Christmas parties are occurring all through the month.”

Shocking video shows danger on our roads

It is shocking viewing. A drink-driver almost crashes into a bus stop after swerving across residential roads – all on a Sunday morning.

In the footage, a silver Ford Ka can be seen weaving across the road with its hazard lights on, narrowly missing parked cars and nearly hitting an oncoming van.

The erratic driver was more than four times over the limit. The man was revealed to be driving without a front tyre and recorded 161 microgrammes of breath in 100 millilitres of breath when tested. The legal limit is 35 microgrammes.

Police released the footage in an effort to shock people into thinking twice before taking to the wheel.

Watch the video here:

Two motorists caught in first days of Christmas drink drive blitz

They also showed another driver under the influence, again on the same Sunday morning, travelled in a BMW southbound on the M42 with sparks flying out of the front due to a missing front wheel.

The X5, which was also missing a rear tyre, ended up hitting a crash barrier. Sergeant Jon Butler said: “We can only hope the message gets through that there are real dangers to getting behind the wheel while under the influence of drink or drugs.

“This is both to drivers and other innocent members of the public.

“We have a zero tolerance. Drink driving is unacceptable and we will catch and prosecute those who break the law.”

Mark Andrews

By Mark Andrews
@MAndrews_Star

Senior news writer for the Shropshire Star specialising in in-depth features and commentary, investigative reporting and political matters.

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