Nearly 1,500 convicted drink-drivers escaped a ban last year, according to ‘official figures’ highlighted in a Telegraph article.
Information provided to LV Insurance by the Ministry of Justice showed that 1,480 of the 55,539 motorists convicted of drink driving were not banned.
The Telegraph says that the readiness of the courts to allow some motorists back behind the wheel has been condemned by road safety experts who warn that other drivers are being put at risk.
Although a ban is regarded as an automatic penalty for drink driving, it is not mandatory and courts are allowed to exercise some discretion. The Telegraph says there are wide discrepancies in the approach taken by courts across the country.
Robert Gifford, executive director of the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (PACTS), said: “Drinking and driving is a serious offence and remains the biggest single killer on our roads. It is important that we have consistent sentencing across the country and that the courts give this offence the significance it deserves.
“It is very worrying to think that some drivers are being let off lightly when they will place other road users at risk.”
A Ministry of Justice spokesperson defended the Government’s approach, saying: “The number of people killed in drink drive accidents has fallen by more than 75% since 1979 but we know we need to continue to take tough action against the small minority of drivers who still ignore the limit.
“That is why the Government is taking forward a package of measures to streamline enforcement, helping the police to target these dangerous offenders.
“The law is very clear that drink drivers should be banned from driving, unless there are exceptional circumstances in which case judges can use their discretion.
“They can also be imprisoned for a maximum of 6 months in prison and receive a £5000 fine. However, sentencing in individual cases is rightly a matter for our independent judiciary who make their decisions with the full facts of the case.”
Click here to read the full Telegraph report.