Getting tougher on drink driving

The festive season is now upon us and with it come celebrations and the temptation to drive home after what might seem just a few innocent drinks.

One in seven deaths on our roads are estimated to be caused by drivers over the legal alcohol limit, so motorists are being encouraged to think about the consequences of drink or drug driving before getting behind the wheel.

No matter how much or how little you are over the limit, if you are caught drink driving, you will automatically lose your licence, be banned from driving for 12 months and get a criminal record.

You also run the risk of losing your car for good under the vehicle forfeiture scheme which means that those caught drink or drug driving for a second time could have their car taken away and sold or crushed.

Now, in a bid to continue making Scotland’s roads safer, the Scottish Government and Road Safety Scotland are supporting the Association of Chief Police Officers’ (ACPOS) 2011 Festive Drink Drug Drive campaign which includes an extension of the forfeiture scheme.

This year’s forfeiture initiative is being broadened to include first time offenders who are found to be well over the drink drive limit and those who refuse to provide a breath test or blood or urine sample without a reasonable excuse. These offenders can now have their vehicle forfeited.

The initiative is backed by a Scottish Government social marketing campaign, in partnership with Road Safety Scotland. In addition to a hard-hitting television advert to be screened throughout the festive period, radio listeners and online users will also be reminded of the dreaded consequence of losing your licence if caught drink driving.

Despite there being a 17% reduction in drink drive casualties since 1999, 7,563 people were caught driving under the influence of drink or drugs last year illustrating that many people fail to consider the potential consequences.

There are plenty alternatives other than choosing to drink drive, so consider how you might get home before going out.

You could check the night bus services in your area or grab a taxi. You could also think about nominating a designated driver or simply leave the car behind and ask someone to pick you up - you can always return to collect your car the next day. However you choose to get home, remember that no matter how much or how little you are over the drink drive limit, in the eyes of the law you are a drunk driver and tough consequences apply.

If you choose to drink drive, you choose to lose your licence, so don’t risk it. Should you suspect someone of drink or drug driving, please contact your local police office, call the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111, or dial 999 in an emergency.