Festive drinkers warned of risks as rural areas top breath-test charge table

Monday, December 11, 2017


A recent study by the Press Association has found that more motorists are charged with drink-driving in largely rural areas.


The figures, obtained through Freedom of Information requests, show that Lincolnshire prosecutes the most per head of population.


Also in the top five were North Wales, Warwickshire, Dyfed-Powys and North Yorkshire. It’s been suggested that the higher numbers in rural areas could be down to a lack of public transport.


It has prompted calls for better public transport in rural area and warnings to anyone tempted to drink and driver over the festive period.


John Hayes, the Conservative MP for South Holland and Deepings, in Lincolnshire, suggested that the problem of rural drink-driving is being “compounded” by a lack of sufficient public transport in the worst offending regions. 


New figures pinpointed Lincolnshire, Warwickshire and North Wales as having the highest level of drink-driving, with Lincolnshire charging 1,035 motorists in 12 months, followed by 783 drivers in North Wales.


Mr Hayes said: “We have a dispersed population in Lincolnshire and sparsity of public transport, many people are dependent on a car, which may compound the issue.


“Drink-driving is clearly a problem in Lincolnshire and it does have its consequences.”


Police inspector Ewan Gell, of Lincolnshire's serious collision investigation unit, said: “If we are at the top of that chart I think there is a problem with drink-driving in Lincolnshire and we need to work very carefully to get the education message across to make sure we get those figures down.


“The only way you can change drink and drug-driving behaviour is by fear of getting caught and what these figures say to me is that we are good at catching people, so that is the message we will be putting out, we are very effective at targeting individuals who drink-drive.”


The findings came after 31 forces out of 45 provided figures over a 12 month period from May 2017.


AA president Edmund King also said the figures could relate to poorer public transport.


He added: "It could also be down to more targeted police enforcement, but whatever the reasons, there is no excuse for drink-driving."


Police Scotland charged the most drivers – 3,797 in total. However, it covers the largest geographical area, the second largest population, and has a lower drink-drive limit than the rest of the UK – at 22 micrograms of alcohol per 100ml of breath, compared to 35 micrograms further south.


Chief Superintendent Stewart Carle, Police Scotland's road policing lead, said the trend was actually downwards.


He said: "Overall, the trend in Scotland is gradually reducing and we are ever alert to ensuring new generations of drivers know and comply with the laws.


"There is no 'safe limit' and driving while intoxicated puts the driver and other road users at greater risk of serious injury."


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