More than 80 traffic collisions a year on Devon’s roads involve someone who has been drink driving.
The figures have been revealed by Devon County Council, Devon and Cornwall Police, and Devon and Somerset Fire & Rescue Service as a reminder of the dangers of drink driving, highlighting that some people still aren’t heeding the warnings of how lives are being put at risk.
Devon and Cornwall Police will be vigilant to drink or drug drivers throughout December, with a focus on patrols in the mornings, when many risk driving while alcohol is still in their system from drinking the night before, and in the evenings when people may be tempted to drive after a night out. The Alliance Roads Policing Team and neighbourhood teams also have a series of specialist and localised operations planned to target drink, drug and irresponsible drivers which will not be announced in advance.
With an annual average of 83 collisions involving someone impaired by alcohol – that accounts for around 5% of all collisions reported to Police in Devon. Between 2013 and 2017 there were nine fatal collisions in the county where drink driving was a contributory factor.
The advice is if you are planning to drink alcohol on a night out, plan how to get home without driving – agree a designated driver, arrange a taxi, find out about public transport routes and times or organise overnight accommodation.
A drink driving conviction could lead to a criminal record, a minimum 12 month driving ban, a hefty fine, up to six months in prison and an endorsement on your licence for 11 years. Refusing to provide a specimen of breath, blood or urine for analysis can also lead to a prison sentence, an unlimited fine, or a driving ban for at least one year. Causing death by careless driving when under the influence of drink may lead to 14 years in prison, an unlimited fine, a ban from driving for at least two years with an extended driving test before your licence is returned.
Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Highway Management, said: “It’s shocking to think that drink driving still accounts for any collisions on the county’s roads, when it could so easily be avoided. If you are driving, the safest thing to do is to have none for the road. We are continuing to work closely with our partner agencies on this because there are no excuses for drink driving. People should be aware of the severe penalties that exist, but the consequences are more far-reaching than a fine or driving ban. It could result in an increase in car insurance costs, or the loss of your job.”
Inspector Peter Thomas, of the Alliance Roads Policing Team, said: “If police think you are unfit to drive through consumption of alcohol, even if your breath test registers lower than the prescribed limit of 35 micrograms of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath you can still be arrested and may be charged with an offence. In short, you do not have to be drunk to be a drink driver. This applies particularly to the morning after a drinking session. Don’t risk it.
“It’s not just you that’s at risk. You could kill or seriously injure another person. Drink and drug driving destroys people’s lives and those of their families.”
Road Safety Partnership, WM Dan Lester, for Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service, said: “It’s the time of year when people are looking forward to Christmas festivities, works parties and spending time with family and friends. If you’re going out for drinks then please make a plan, in advance, that will allow you to get home safely and leave your car behind.
“Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service will continue to work alongside our colleagues in Devon County Council road safety teams and the Police to provide help and education to members of the public in order to keep them safer on the roads. Have a lovely Christmas but please be safe.”
For more information go to www.devon-cornwall.police.uk/advice/your-community/drugs-and-alcohol/alcohol/drink-driving
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