Thursday, 2 May 2013

Don't drink and drive ~ you might spill some!

Better than a ban - or a crash
New rules have been introduced for the worst drink-drivers, especially those caught driving while more than 2.5 times over the limit, or done for drink-driving twice in the last ten years. The measures include requiring high risk offenders to have a medical examination to prove they don't have a problem with alcohol misuse before they can get their licence back. More details can be found here.

This is all to the good. These measures will do more about drunken driving than reducing the legal limit, which I have written about several times previously, e.g. here. Personally, I'd go even further: anyone who is convicted of drink-driving for a third time should be banned for life - three strikes and you're out. If you haven't learnt by then, you clearly never will.

In the 1970s, when I learnt to drive, the attitude towards someone who'd been banned for drink-driving was "Bad luck!", but this changed during the 1980s to become "Serves you right!" as people increasingly understood how alcohol impairs your abilities. I recall one evening about 25 years ago a friend of mine who was well over the limit and about to drive home being harangued by drunks around the bar to leave his car keys behind and collect his car the next day.

In the 1970s, I often heard drivers claim that they could drive better after a few drinks. I had thought that such a dinosaur view had died out, but not a thing of it. After a fatal accident in Southport a year or two ago, a young woman who'd been injured in the crash said that the driver, a young male, used to claim that he drove better after few drinks, and I heard exactly the same nonsense a couple of weeks ago in a TV documentary about young drivers. Seeing that road accidents are the biggest killer of people under 25, it is worrying to hear some of them express such an attitude. I've heard a lot of suggestions about how to tackle this, such as prohibiting new drivers from driving late at night, limiting the number of passengers they can carry, maximum car engine size, maximum speed and even a zero alcohol limit, but it's no use making yet more new rules if there aren't the resources to enforce them. In the long run, education as part of the driving test is probably the best way forward, including shocking pictures of real accidents and people describing the devastating impact drink-driving can cause.

Like many people at the time, I occasionally used to drink-drive in the late 70s. I'm not proud of that, and I never thought I was a better driver after drinking. Fortunately nothing ever went wrong, although I had one near miss which didn't result in an accident mainly because the other driver was more on the ball than I was; I was lucky. Shortly after that, I reflected that I knew lots of people who had perfectly good social lives without using cars, that there were trains, buses and taxis, and also that I actually had a lot of pubs within walking distance. As one near miss taught me a lesson, I can't understand the mentality of people who, despite having been caught, sometimes even after accidents caused by drink, offend again and again; such people would ignore any limit, even a zero one. If the new rules help stop some of these high risk offenders, they'll be worthwhile.


  1. Great post, RedNev. Most folk, after being caught drink driving, tend to realise that their actions whilst under the influence can lead to a death. This usually stops them re-offending but I fully support your motion that if they haven't learnt their lesson after three offences, they shouldn't be allowed back on the road.

  2. I've just deleted a comment by an American lawyer, responding to this post, but also putting a link to her law firm in the USA, so it's an advert. If she hadn't put the link, I'd have let it stand.


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