News from Devon and Cornwall Police: No such thing as a typical drunk driver.


Devon and Cornwall Police’s annual summer drink drive campaign, run along with other UK police forces in June 2017, has highlighted that there is no such thing as a typical drunk driver and exploded some other myths along the way.

You are twice as likely to get caught for drink impaired driving in Devon and Cornwall

True. Since 2013, the average percentage of drivers who have been stopped in Devon and Cornwall that were positive, failed or refused a breath test is 20%. The national average from figures released by the NPCC this year is 10%.

I won’t be prosecuted if my breath test is under the legal limit

False. If the police have observed you driving in a careless or dangerous fashion whether you have had a collision or not, or if you have a collision, you could still be arrested, charged and prosecuted for a “Section 4” offense of driving a mechanically propelled vehicle whilst unfit through drink or drugs even if you are “under the limit” of 35 micrograms of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath.

I’ll be alright to drive in the morning

False. No, you very likely won’t be. There is no way to be certain that you have “slept off” that drinking session. From a sample of 98 of the 135 people that had a positive, failed or refused breath test this June, seven were found to be significantly over the limit the morning after. One 38-year-old man blew 147 (micrograms of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath) at 9.24 on a Wednesday morning.  Sleep has nothing to do with reducing the alcohol level in your blood, only time.

I won’t be breaking the law if the car isn’t moving

False. If you are in a car and have been drinking and you have the means to start that vehicle, then the burden of proof is upon you to prove that you did not intend to drive it. This June people certainly tried and were still tested and arrested. One driver was asleep in the car with the engine running and one even claimed that they were living in their car.

It’s just a fine and some points on the license, maybe a ban for a few months

False. People convicted of drink or drug driving can expect to be banned from driving for at least 12 months, receive a fine of up to £5,000 and/or six months in prison.  When someone dies as a result of a collision involving a driver under the influence of drugs or alcohol, sentences can carry a penalty of up to ten years in prison. In June at least two 24 month disqualifications were handed down, and one driver went to prison for six weeks.

The police just stop people at random

False. If that were the case, the arrest rate in Devon and Cornwall wouldn’t be as high. Roads policing is intelligence led and you can help. If you have information that someone has been drinking and is going to drive then in an emergency call 999. Alternatively contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111. Watch our video to see what can happen next:

Not that some drink drivers need help to be spotted by police and stopped. Leaving aside those seen to be driving erratically or with excess speed, from our sample we had drivers who: drove into a pedestrian area; drove into parked cars, drove into a lamppost and drove into a no entry road, who left the scene of an accident and one who was found slumped at the wheel and then fell out of the car when the door was opened and was later found also to have cocaine in their blood.

Drink driver…absolutely typical!

There’s no such thing as a typical drink driver. The list of arrested drivers jobs from our sample of 98 reads just short of an A to Z of professions: from Administrative Assistant to Welfare Worker, passing through everything from Civil Engineer, Dispatch Rider, Fisherman, Plasterer, Plumber, Scientist, Student and Welder on the way. 20% of people stopped were unemployed and between 30% and 40% were aged under 25.

Surely every British person has got the message about drink driving by now?

False. Sadly not. 79% of the drivers arrested in our sample were British, with the other 21% being made up of 10 different nationalities.

So nothing’s changed then?

False. Attitudes to drink driving are changing, although there is still room for improvement. While there are very few people who would think it acceptable to jump into their car after a drinking session at the pub, for which there is no excuse, the rest of us still have to think more about the consequences of driving the morning after: don’t risk it.  Drink driving is increasingly socially unacceptable and is even less so when the impact of losing your license, your job and the respect of your friends and family if you are arrested is taken into account. While the number of stops have gone down since figures were recorded in 2007, the percentage of those who have provided a positive, failed or refused breath test has almost trebled. Intelligence led targeted policing of the regions roads uses assets more efficiently with the aim of making the roads safer for everyone.

As a driver I’m being victimised

False. The victims of drink driving are those who are killed or seriously injured by drink drivers. The consequences of driving while impaired through drink or drugs can be devastating – a car in the hands of someone in that condition is a collision waiting to happen – reaction times go up and spatial awareness reduces.  Despite long term reductions, drink and drug driving still accounts for 15% of road deaths and almost 10,000 casualties nationally each year.  Think about the consequences, the devastation caused to families affected and how many lives are needlessly lost when otherwise law abiding people decide to commit a crime thinking they won’t get caught.

In our policing area, you are twice as likely to get caught.

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