Christmas drink and drug drive campaign launched

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Warwickshire Police officer conducting a breath test. (Photo submitted)

WARWICKSHIRE Police has today launched a campaign to highlight the consequences of driving under the influence of drink or drugs this Christmas.

Between April 2016 and March 2018 eleven people in Warwickshire lost their lives as the result of a collision where drink or drugs was a factor.

Over the same period 84 people in Warwickshire suffered serious, often life changing injuries due to a collision involving someone getting behind the wheel under the influence of drink or drugs.

Whilst the vast majority of drivers don’t drink or take drugs and drive, research carried out for the Department for Transport found 20 per cent of young men have had two or more drinks before driving and an extra 11 per cent say they have considered it – with a third of adults telling researchers they felt it wouldn’t impact on their driving.

Research from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) shows a second drink doubles a driver’s chances of being involved in a fatality.

This could be due to some of the myths that exist around drinking and driving and police are keen to dispel these.

It is a myth that men can drink two pints of beer and be under the limit.

It is also a myth that women can drink a pint of beer or two small 175ml glasses of wine and be under the limit.

Research shows that the amount of alcohol in drinks varies from one drink to another and the way alcohol affects you depends on your weight, age, sex and metabolism, the type and amount of alcohol you’re drinking, what you’ve eaten recently and even how stressed you are feeling. It is safer not to drink and drive.

Inspector Jem Mountford said “We are asking everyone in Warwickshire to play a part in reducing the number of people killed or seriously injured due to drink driving by talking openly to friends or family before you go out drinking about how you and they are going to get home later.

“During the festive season the temptation to drink and drive is likely to be higher than at other times of the year. However it could be as simple as encouraging them to book a taxi or get a lift from a sober friend, or to check local public transport timetables making a note of the time of the last bus home.“

Results from winter 2018/2019 reveal that nationally 84% of offenders were male and motorists aged 25 and over are more likely to commit a drink or drug driving offence.

In Warwickshire there was a 36% increase in the total number of positive, refused or failed breath tests between Christmas 2017 and 2018.

This is concerning because driving under the influence of drink or drugs is extremely dangerous and there is no quick way to sober up. It takes time to get the alcohol out of your system, you may still be affected by alcohol the next day, and could lose your licence if you drive and are still over the legal limit.

Most people don’t drink or take drugs and drive but those that do could be imprisoned, banned from driving and face a fine if found guilty of drink driving. The penalty is determined by magistrates on an individual basis taking all circumstances in to account.

For example, for being in charge of a vehicle while above the legal limit or unfit through drink, you could face 3 months imprisonment, up to £2500 fine and a possible driving ban. For causing death by careless driving when under the influence of drink you could face 14 years’ imprisonment, an unlimited fine, a ban from driving for at least two years, and an extended driving test before your licence is returned.

On 2nd March 2015 the drug driving law was amended to include legal limits for 17 controlled drugs both illegal and prescription. The limits set for each illegal drug vary, but are all extremely low – taking even a very small amount of an illegal drug could put drivers over the limit.   For prescription drugs or over the counter medication, please check with your doctor or pharmacist if you are unsure about whether these will affect your driving ability.

If you’re convicted of drug driving you’ll get a minimum one year driving ban, an unlimited fine, up to six months in prison and a criminal record. Your driving licence will also show you’ve been convicted for drug driving. This will last for 11 years.

The penalty for causing death by dangerous driving under the influence of drugs is a prison sentence of up to 14 years.

That’s not all though. A conviction for drink or drug driving also means your car insurance costs may increase significantly. If you drive for work, your employer will see your conviction on your licence, and you may have difficulty travelling to countries such as the USA.

Warwickshire Police will be publicising arrests made during December and January for drink or drug driving as part of their push to change people’s behaviour and reduce the number of people killed and seriously injured on the county’s roads. Follow us on Facebook @WarwickshirePolice and Twitter @WarksPolice or visit the news section of our website www.warwickshire.police.uk for arrest details.

Officers are also asking the public to provide intelligence about anyone they believe may be drink or drug driving in Warwickshire to police by dialling 101. Reports can also be made anonymously to independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.