As Christmas approaches the force will, as always, increase its focus on drink driving. A couple of Christmases ago I stopped a driver on a Sunday morning on the M11, a routine stop for speeding. As I spoke with the female driver I noticed a smell of drink from within the car. I breath tested her and found her to be over the drink drive limit.
The driver’s reaction surprised me; “but I’m not a drink driver”, as I showed her the result on my machine. It transpired that she had been out the night before, but not left sufficient time for her body to recover from the effects of alcohol in the morning. A few hours later at the custody desk I read the charge of drink driving to her, and her only question was “does this make me a criminal?”
The reason I chose to write about this encounter was really to bring the problem of drink driving into perspective. It’s easy to think of yourself broadly as ‘not a drink driver’ and ‘not a criminal’, but our responsibilities as motorists extend far beyond us acting like the stereotypical drink driver or criminal. The driver didn’t consider being over the limit as it did not fit with her idea of what or who a drink driver is.
The driver lost her licence and suffered a 12-month driving ban. She also had to pay a total of £580 to the court (£450 fine, £45 victim surcharge and £85 costs). She also had to pay a further £120 for recovery as her car was removed from the M11. Lastly, she was made to attend a speed awareness course in regards to her speeding offence.
The message here is to beware of the morning after a night on the drink – it takes a surprisingly long amount of time for alcohol to fully leave your system, so if you know you have to drive the next morning, take it steady and make sure you leave plenty of time between your last drink that night and your first drive the next day.
Inspector Paul Rogerson