Calls to allow officers to ban drug and drink-drivers at the roadside

10.28 | 22 February 2024 | | | 8 comments

A leading police figure is calling for new powers to allow officers to instantly disqualify drink or drug-drivers at the roadside.

Reported by Sky News, they say the new powers would allow police to take drivers who pose a risk to others off the road “immediately”.

Currently, drivers charged with drug or drink-driving offences are banned following a sentencing hearing at a magistrates’ court.

However, these hearings can take weeks to get to court – and, until then, drivers are allowed to get back behind the wheel.

Chief Constable Jo Shiner, the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) lead for roads policing, said: “The ability for us to be able to disqualify people either for drink or drug-driving by the roadside would mean that we can immediately take that risk off the road.

“And those people can’t be behind the wheel, particularly if they’ve blown well over the legal limit.”

Under the current system, drivers are checked using a road-side test, which, if positive, is followed by a confirmatory test at a police station.

If that second test comes back positive, they are charged and sent to court.

According to the report, force chiefs are currently in early discussions looking at the type of tests that could be used to allow officers to ban people at the roadside.

They are also looking at the legal changes needed to make the move possible.

As well as roadside bans, the NPCC also wants tougher punishments for drivers who kill while under the influence, including potential murder charges.



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    > If someone was walking along the high street with a loaded gun, they would be locked up and straight into court, prison etc

    But that’s exactly the point.

    Drink driving isn’t deemed serious enough to warrant a session with judges in pyjamas, whereas potential contraventions of the Firearms Acts would be.

    David Weston, Newcastle upon Tyne
    Agree (4) | Disagree (6)

    I see a lot of replies saying that they disagree with this and that it would cause a hardship if they were to be banned immediately.
    I think you are all missing the point…this is about PREVENTION…i would be a lot happier doing 100 neg road side alcohol/drug tests then 1 positive…Why, it means we have finally got the message through.

    If someone was walking along the high street with a loaded gun, they would be locked up and straight into court, prison etc… not be sent home with the gun once they are sobre…Drunk/Drug drivers are the same thing…more people are killed on the road then shot.yet they are let home with their weapon of choice, i.e the car.

    I fully support CC Joe Shiner on this

    Stephen Hughes
    Agree (7) | Disagree (12)

    That would be interesting taking into consideration that there isn’t an exact correlation between alcohol content in a breath sample, and alcohol content in a blood sample.

    I therefore would suspect that this should only be applied in cases where a driver has failed a test to such a degree that a positive sample could not be doubted.

    And following on from Pat’s point of view, I would like to add that there’s nothing stopping anyone with a particularly bitter grudge from maliciously spiking someone’s drink for the purposes of taking them off the road for months at a time.

    Given the police’s propensity to not care between what’s just and what’s lawful, I could reasonably foresee the police refusing to investigate any potential allegation of that nature until a court date, as it’s naturally “for the courts to deal with those matters”

    David Weston, Newcastle upon Tyne
    Agree (6) | Disagree (3)

    Driving a car isn’t a “right” its permitted by “license”. If a driver is over the limit and this is confirmed by a police station test then I see no reason why that “license” can’t be suspended for 30 days.

    Rod+King, Lymm
    Agree (11) | Disagree (12)

    I believe that I am right in thinking that some years ago the French would conduct roadside drink/drive checkpoints with a Magistrate at the scene. The erring drivers would be processed and disqualified immediately.

    As things stand at present, drivers usually have plenty of time before a disqualification to rearrange their lives and avoid the disruption that can occur with a driving ban. They can perhaps arrange a change in their employment to cope with the loss of their licence and generally mitigate against the problems. This reduces the impact of a ban as punishment.

    I think this is what the officer wishes to avoid by plunging drivers straight into the deep end of a period of not driving. I know that this is anecdotal, but I see on Police X accounts that quite a few drivers who are awaiting a court appearance for drink/drug driving are again arrested in the interim period. It is right that the punishment needs to follow very closely on the heels of the offence.

    David Daw, Bury St Edmunds
    Agree (7) | Disagree (6)

    Whilst I understand the problem with justice taking so long to be applied through the courts, I never want to see this level power in police hands.
    The NPCC need to come up with a different proposal to solve the problem as this one is fraught with many risks in our imperfect world.

    Pat, Wales
    Agree (12) | Disagree (6)

    Drug or drink drivers who fail the roadside tests are taken off the road immediately anyway i.e. they get arrested! That solves the immediate problem of keeping them off the road whist unfit to drive however, if they are persistent offenders, this is where the Poilce could perhaps have the power to ‘ban’ them temporarily, pending court proceedings. Perhaps such a power to ‘temporarily ban’ offenders could be extended to other serious motoring offenders – could be a gamechanger for road safety.

    Hugh Jones, Cheshire
    Agree (4) | Disagree (12)

    How many people awaiting a court hearing for drink drive are involved in KSI collisions?
    Could we have a source for data on this please?

    dave finney, slough
    Agree (13) | Disagree (0)

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