Scotland sees increase in festive drink-driving

12.00 | 9 January 2017 | | 5 comments


The percentage of drivers stopped while over the drink-drive limit during Police Scotland’s annual festive enforcement campaign rose to a ‘hugely disappointing’ 3.3% in 2016/17.

Bernard Higgins, assistant chief constable of Police Scotland, said his officers were ‘massively active’ over the festive period and described the result as an ‘absolute disgrace’.

The enforcement campaign, which ran between 2 December 2016 and 2 January 2017, also highlighted the ‘morning after’ drink drive issue, with 46 drivers caught between 6-10am – which equates to a 225% year-on-year rise.

The total of 19,000 driver tested by Police Scotland during the 2016/17 campaign represents a 15% year-on-year rise. 625 (3.3%) of those were found to be over the limit, compared with 2.8% during the same period in 2015/16.

More than 9% of those caught drink-driving tested between the old and new limits, up 4% on the previous year.

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The campaign coincided with a Scottish Government awareness campaign to reinforce the message that ‘the best approach is none’.

Michael Matheson, justice secretary, said: “It is hugely disappointing to see a rise in the number of drivers who have flouted the law and put their lives, and the lives of others, at risk over the festive period.

“Of course people should be enjoying time with their loved ones over Christmas and New Year but this isn’t an excuse to ignore the law and get behind the wheel after drinking alcohol.”

Bernard Higgins, assistant chief constable of Police Scotland, said: “It is an absolute disgrace that so many people were prepared to risk their own lives, as well as the lives of innocent people, by recklessly taking to the roads while in a drunken state.

“We were massively active over the festive season and while the number of tests we carried out was greater than last year, proportionately the number of people caught, particularly those the following morning, was greater still.”

“Drivers need to take far greater personal responsibility, and also be aware that while this campaign is over, my officers still have a very sharp focus on detecting and arresting drunk drivers. I repeat the guidance given at the start of the campaign – don’t risk it, because – as these 625 people have found to their cost – we will detect and arrest you."

Picture: ScotGov Justice (@ScotGovJustice) via Twitter.

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    This doesn’t provide much, if any, evidence that a lower drink drive limit reduces drink-driving. As expected, people are being caught under the old limit – successfully criminalising those who would previously not been prosecuted. No indication of how far over the limit people were. Unfortunate that so many were tested and caught next day, given that a falling BAC has less impairment than a rising BAC, but it wouldn’t be practical to incorporate that into law as there is no way of knowing when any individual had actually been drinking.

    BTW, a friend of mine who is ‘teetotal’ was breathalised recently – the first reading put him over the limit – he pointed out he doesn’t drink alcohol – the second reading showed zero – he asked that the police go and get the equipment tested and re-calibrated in order to avoid any more false readings.

    Paul Biggs, Staffordshire
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    This was another large scale campaign with numbers of drivers tested slightly up on the previous year. However what we don’t know is how the pattern of enforcement compared to the previous year. Variations in the enforcement pattern could easily account for all the 0.5 per cent increase in fail rate. That could mean the trend is actually flat and not rising. As usual, we don’t have enough information on variables to draw definite conclusions from the statistics and possibly neither do the Scottish constabulary.

    Pat, Wales
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    Yes but it seems that as yet it has not hit home that the drink drive laws have perhaps not been as successful as some would hope in informing some drivers of the changes and so they continue to drink, perhaps as before in the mistaken belief that they are not over the limit or that they will not get caught. ie not show whilst driving that they are in any way impaired…but in fact they do.

    Bob Craven Lancs
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    The drink-drive limit was lowered at the beginning of December 2014, so the limit was the same in this ‘festive-season’ as it was last time. The numbers caught were higher while the limit was the same, not while it was reduced.

    David S, Scotland
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    Scottish police complains about more people caught drink-driving when limit is reduced, what a shocker.

    David Weston, Corby
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

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