In 2017, there was a total of 8,600 casualties caused by a person drink-driving in the UK. 1,640 of those casualties included either a very serious injury or death. Drink-driving penalties in the UK range from a fine to imprisonment as well as a possible ban from driving for up to 3 years. Effective enforcement of drink-drive laws is essential to deter people from committing this crime and upholding road traffic safety.
The Dangers of Drink-Driving
Driving whilst under the influence of alcohol puts yourself and others around you in great danger. When alcohol is in your system, your response time is reduced and the way in which you respond to different situations is affected. Your concentration is diminished, as well as your attention span, which both greatly increase the chance of an accident. Vision, judgement and motor skills are also all affected as a result of alcohol consumption which, when combined with driving, will only increase the chance of a collision.
Despite drunk-drivers putting passengers, pedestrians and other road users at danger, statistics show that the majority of those killed or seriously injured within drink-driving collisions was the driver themselves. This shows that the choice to drink and drive significantly endangers yourself, as well as others.
UK Law Enforcement and Drink-Drive Technology
Currently, the police can stop you at any time whilst driving and ask you to take a breath test if they think you have been drinking alcohol, you’ve committed a traffic offence or you’ve been involved in a road traffic accident. However, The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents have publicised their beliefs that providing the police with greater breath-testing powers would be an effective deterrent of drink-driving. The Society stated that the police should be able to carry out breath tests without any reason or prior suspicion. This power would also allow the police to conduct Random Breath Testing, which has been suggested to be the most effective deterrence for drink-drivers. Drink-driving is such a serious offence that it warrants giving the police wider powers.
In addition to wider police powers, the National Police Chiefs Council have also stated that they would like to see an introduction of mobile evidential breath-testing instruments (MEBTI) to be available for the police in the UK. This would enable the police to take evidential samples at the roadside. Instead of having to take a suspect to a police station to acquire a sample, MEBTI’s would allow for a much quicker and more efficient procedure and would reduce the chance that a suspect would fall below the legal limit before a sample could be taken.
The UK government are also considering the introduction of alcohol interlocks or “alcolocks”. This technology operates in a similar way to conventional breathalysers and are installed directly within the vehicle. Alcolocks require the driver to take a breath test before the vehicle will start and if the system detects the driver as being over the legal limit, the vehicle’s engine will be immobilised. This technology has already been introduced in a number of countries on a voluntary or mandatory basis for professional drivers and for the management of drink drive offenders. Their use has been successful in deterring people from drink-driving and ultimately, help to prevent road traffic accidents.
If you have any questions about the above or require any further information, please contact the one of the team on 01483 543210.