Unlicensed motorists and drink drivers run risk of having their vehicles seized as police get tough

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as well as continuing their annual festive campaign against drivers who get behind the wheel whilst under the influence, Lothian and Borders Police are also urging uninsured and unlicensed motorists to be on their guard as officers continue a crackdown which has seen more thn 50 vehicles seized in the region in the last five months.

The message for offenders to be on their guard follows extensive road checks which began in the summer and resulted in nine vehicles being taken off the road in July; 13 in August; 15 in September; 13 in October and 12 last month.

Inspector Shillito of the Road Policing section commented: “We are committed to making our roads safer and reducing the level of road casualties where possible across our area.

“Over the past few months, road policing officers as well as operational officers within the division have been carrying out a number of high visibility road checks.

“During these checks, officers have established that either the driver was not driving in accordance with their driving license or the motor vehicle had no valid policy of insurance.

“This has resulted in 52 motor vehicles being seized by local officers and we are committed to continuing these checks until we are confident that people are taking our warning on board”.

“I want to assure the public that local officers will be doing everything they can to get illegal motorists off our roads. And my message to those people who choose to ignore this message and drive without a license or without valid insurance, be assured we will be focusing our efforts and you will get caught”.

Anyone wishing to report an individual driving a vehicle without a license or valid insurance can contact Lothian and Borders Police on 01450 375051, or in confidence and complete anonymity through the charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

And it’s not just uninsured or unlicensed drivers who run the risk of having their vehicles seized.

This year’s festive drink and drug driving campaign has seen the introduction of tough new measures targeting first time offenders who provide a sample for analysis, which is three times the legal limit or more and also those offenders who refuse to provide a sample for analysis without a reasonable excuse.

As well as receiving a criminal record, a substantial fine and an automatic 12 month ban, these drivers may now have their vehicle seized and, on conviction, have it taken away for good.

Authorities have the power to seek seizure and forfeiture of a driver’s vehicle under the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988.

In Scotland, the forfeiture scheme was first introduced during the 2009 ACPOS (Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland) Festive Drink Drive campaign.

It was extended in the summer of 2010 to include drug drivers and applies to anyone who is caught for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs for a second time.

ACPOS Vice President, Justine Curran commented: “I would like to highlight that the people caught drink or drug driving are not hardened criminals, but those people who have not been in any serious trouble with the police and decide to drink and drive.”

She added: “I would emphasise to anyone who is considering taking such a risk, that they are also deciding to accept the consequences of criminal record and a substantial fine.

“The message is clear - if you take the risk we will catch you, and I would encourage anyone who suspects a person of drink or drug driving to contact their local police office, call the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or, in an emergency, dial 999.”