The festive season is now upon us and with it come celebrations and maybe even the temptation to drive home after what might seem like an innocent drink.
Last Christmas, 478 drivers across Scotland did it and were caught. Don’t join them this year.
No matter how much or how little you are over the limit, in the eyes of the law you are still a drunk driver. If you’re caught, 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 could have their car taken away and sold or crushed.
Perhaps none of the motorists caught last year stopped to think about the potentially devastating consequences to themselves, their families or to other road users.
It is estimated that one in nine deaths on Scotland’s roads are caused by drivers over the limit, so motorists are being encouraged to think about the consequences of drink or drug driving before getting behind the wheel.
Police forces across Scotland are giving their clearest ‘Don’t Drink and Drive’ message yet this festive season and will be increasing efforts to make sure those risking their lives and those of other road users will face the consequences.
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) 2012 Festive Drink Drug Drive campaign with the message that if you choose to drink and drive, you choose to lose your licence.
Adverts will be aired throughout the festive period on TV and radio to remind drivers of the serious consequences of losing your licence if caught drink driving.
Michael McDonnell, director of Road Safety Scotland, said: “Scotland’s roads are getting safer but still too many people risk their lives, and the lives of others, by choosing to take a drink before getting behind the wheel. It’s time people realised that drink and drug driving are totally unacceptable and, if you do it, there’s a good chance you’ll be caught, so don’t risk it.”
Despite there being a 17% reduction in drink drive casualties since 1999, in 2011 more than seven thousand people in Scotland were caught driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs; that’s around 20 offenders detected every day illustrating that many people still fail to consider the potential consequences.
Kenny MacAskill, Cabinet Secretary for Justice, said: “If you choose to drink and drive, you choose to lose your licence. But the consequences can be devastating for victims, their families and our communities. On average, an estimated 30 lives are lost on our roads every year due to drink driving.
“The Scottish Government and Road Safety Scotland are supporting the ACPOS annual festive drink and drug drive crackdown with an advertising campaign to remind people of the dangers and the consequences.
“This Government has made it clear that we want a lower drink driving limit as we believe it will help make Scotland’s roads safer.
“Our consultation, that sought views on reducing the drink driving limit to a level which would bring Scotland into line with most of Europe and which will help save lives on our roads, closed last week. Consultation responses will be independently analysed and we will publish our consultation report early next year.
“We will continue to work with the police and road safety partners to consider new measures to tackle the scourge of drink driving on Scotland’s roads.”
Scots are being urged to think of the alternatives other than choosing to drink and drive, so consider how you might get home before going out.
Nominate a designated driver; leave the car behind or ask someone to pick you up – you can always return to collect your car the next day. Many night bus services are also available throughout Scotland or you could always grab a taxi.
However you choose to get home, remember that no matter how much or how little you are over the drink drive limit, tough consequences apply. And you can risk losing your job and your freedom
Don’t risk it. Plan ahead when you go out and make sure that, if you take the car, you don’t take a drink.
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.
Visit www.dontriskit.info to find out more.
Deputy Chief Constable Tom Ewing from Fife Constabulary, who speaks on road policing matters for ACPOS, said: “Throughout my career I have found it astonishing that people are prepared to risk not only the serious consequences of losing their licence but also the threat to life and limb by taking to the wheel under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
“Last year we saw 7,445 people charged with being over the limit, which is a simply unacceptable figure.
“We will use every means at our disposal to track down those who drive after taking alcohol or drugs and with our law enforcement partners will ensure that they face the consequences.
“That is likely to mean a fine, loss of driving licence for at least a year and for repeat offenders and those who give a high reading the chance of losing their vehicle.
“Many serious crashes happen as a result of drivers drinking or taking drugs and as many as one in nine road deaths is related to a drink or drug driver. That is simply not acceptable and we must work together to end the scourge of drink and drug driving.
“ACPOS fully supports the idea of reducing the limit for drink driving which has been the subject of recent consultation but would stress that our clear advice remains that no alcohol or drugs should be taken before driving a vehicle.”