I spent a couple of years in the Police and saw many drink-drivers. I will never understand the mentality behind the decision to drink, sometimes heavily, and then attempt to drive home and take such huge risks. Firstly there’s the risk to your health. With seriously impaired vision and judgement its almost guaranteed you will hit something. You will just have to hope it’s at low speed. You have all sorts of obstacles to dodge, parked cars, moving cars, bollards, lamp-posts, people…
And that takes me to the biggest risk of all, the potential of hitting another innocent human being. Why oh why would you want to take the risk of killing someone, or at least seriously injuring them, just to save a few minutes waiting for a bus? Then you have to look at the impact losing your licence and having such a conviction against you. So many jobs rely on you being able to drive. I’ve had people on their hands and knees begging me not to arrest them and to show mercy. ‘The same mercy you were showing to the general public’ I would reply. The problem is, as much as the government have tried, some people still just do not get, or maybe haven’t got the intelligence to get, why it is so wrong and the consequences involved. I have long thought the sentencing should be longer. At this moment in time if you are caught drink-driving you will be given a 12 month driving ban, which can sometimes be increased depending on the nature of your driving at the time or how much alcohol is in your blood.
A year isn’t nearly enough and appears to be no deterrent. People need to be scared of the consequences and I can only imagine the only reason there isn’t a custodial sentence is the fact we have no room. A guaranteed 6 months behinds bars if caught, for me, would substantially cut the number of arrests and roads deaths.
A start is the announcement the Police will potentially be able to seize vehicles. This is due to be introduced in 2013 and should at least make the lucky few, with expensive newer cars, think twice. They will not just include drinking offences, but drug offences too. Unfortunately for drug offences, the introduction of roadside ‘drugalysers’ has been delayed until 2015.
Vehicle seizures are definitely a good thing. Anything that makes the consequences harsher will always be a good thing. I don’t know what’s wrong with the government sometimes. Why have they not tried to clamp down before? Who are they worried about alienating. Surely they’re not concerned about losing these peoples’ votes? Surely it would save copious amounts of money in advertising. The threat of prison – no matter how far or close to the limit – should be enough, and if it isn’t then they really do deserve to be behind bars.
Some have spoken against the new seizure law saying you have to take into account mitigating circumstances, stating ‘you have to take into account if you are taking away the family car’. Why? This would make the punishment, well, no punishment at all. I shake my head in disbelief and some peoples’ stupidity. If you drink and drive, and your car is seized, then it is your own fault. There should be no leniency.
New driving offences are to be created too, giving the Police the ability to give out instant fixed penalty notices for driving annoyances such as tailgating, undertaking or cutting up other road users.
The right direction but still not anywhere near enough to make our roads a safer, more pleasant place to be.