London, 7 Dec 2003.
For immediate release.

Contact the ABD

Press Release

Flawed Government Policy Leads To Increase In Drink Driving
ABD says "Don't drink and Drive this Christmas, and be careful that you are not over the limit the next morning"
Recent figures suggest that the incidence of both drink driving and drink related crashes are on the increase.
"The policy of replacing traffic officers with speed cameras has led to a free for all on the roads. Those officers still on patrol are often encouraged to focus their efforts on the detection of speed limit offences, leaving dangerous drivers to get away with it," said the ABD's Nigel Humphries.
Ironically — as experienced traffic officers will know — the drink driver is often easily identifiable as the only driver adhering to the speed limit since he knows that in the current climate this will render him less likely to be stopped.
Government data clearly shows that prosecutions for traffic offences other than speed limit infringements have dropped by an average of over 40% in the last decade. Current road policing policy is therefore becoming a charter for careless, reckless and drunken drivers, and for those who lack insurance, an MOT and in many cases a driving licence.
The ABD would strongly encourage drivers to avoid drinking at all, and to pay special attention to the dangers of driving the "morning after" consuming large quantities of alcohol. Some drivers have been caught over the limit well into the next afternoon, and everyone should be aware of this.
Reducing the 80mg blood alcohol limit, as many have suggested, is not the answer. The major problem is that of of the serious offender who exceeds the current limits. He or she will continue to do so irrespective of any limit.
A reduced limit would mean many more drivers being unwittingly caught the next day, which would cause disrespect for a law which is currently almost universally supported by the public.
It could have the same effect as has been seen where reducing speed limits to often ridiculous levels has destroyed respect for the law.
There is a disturbing pattern developing here.
Some drivers crash whilst travelling far too fast for the conditions. The knee jerk reaction is not to target and severely punish such drivers but instead to punish the responsible safe driver by lowering speed limits.
Some drivers crash whilst using a mobile phone irresponsibly. The knee jerk reaction is not to use the existing careless driving laws to punish drivers who behave in this way but instead to give the police powers to pull over drivers in traffic jams or even sitting in lay bys with their engines running.
Some drivers crash after drinking far too much. The urgent priority must be to target these drivers and severely punish them, not to lower the limit and criminalise thousands who left their car at home when drinking the night before but have a small amount of residual alcohol the next morning.
The ABD calls for:
  1. A return to the former levels of traffic policing that coincided with a healthy decline in the number of drink drive accidents.
  2. More severe penalties for those caught well over the existing limit, particularly for repeat offenders.
  3. Harsher punishment for those who drive whilst disqualified following drink-drive convictions.
  4. A campaign of education — still giving advice not to drink at all but also providing clear information about alcoholic quantities and their effects in relation to body weight etc.
  5. Alcohol outlets and drink manufacturers should be compelled to show the quantity of alcohol in served drinks.
  6. Incentives should be introduced for alcohol outlets to reduce the cost of alcohol free drinks. Currently the price mark-up on these can be significantly higher than on alcoholic drinks.


Notes for Editors