Tackling Drink Driving through Improved EU Legislation

by drivingoffence on November 14, 2016

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[Post from 2014] In Lancashire, during a single month, more than 17,000 drivers were pulled over by police. 98.8% weren’t under the influence, but that’s still 221 drunk drivers caught red handed – 221 too many. 202 failed their roadside tests, while 19 refused to provide a specimen. The Preston area did best with only 26 DUI drivers caught.

Across the country, there’s a drinking and driving pandemic, which is more common in the countryside (on those windy back roads). More needs to be done to tackle this issue that puts everyone at risk.

European Problem

Poland is still reeling from a high-profile DUI case that took place on New Year’s Day several years ago. A drunk driver ploughed his BMW into a crowd of people – 6 were killed. One boy was seriously injured and lost both his parents, plus his brother, to this incident. Understandably, this has provoked public outrage. Instances like this are the reason why the EU must have a meaningful debate on drunk driving.

Estimates suggest that 6,500 deaths are linked to drunk driving in any given year, across European roads. Progress has been made, but these deaths are largely avoidable.

In Belgium, a school bus driver (in charge of 49 children) was made to do a breath test and was found to be over the limit. Of course, he was sacked, but when professional drivers are under the influence, the repercussions can be potentially catastrophic.

In many European countries, alcohol interlocks are being used to stop drivers over the limit hitting the road. This is an in-built breathalyser that won’t let you turn the ignition until you’ve passed the test. Finland first introduced this technology in 2008 to prevent drink drivers from reoffending. In Sweden, there are roughly 100,000 alcohol interlocks in use. Any new school buses in France are equipped with alcohol interlocks, and by next year, school buses will undergo retrofitting.

Slow Uptake

However, the rest of the EU hasn’t latched on to this technology. With the European Commission setting targets to halve the instances of road deaths in the EU by 2020, there really should be more of a movement towards these kind of precautions. The EU has been squabbling amongst itself about creating uniform legislation on drunk driving. The UK actually has one of the highest allowances in the world, at 0.8 grams per litre of blood. The Czech Republic has a zero tolerance policy.

The UK is currently debating a zero tolerance policy for young drivers and compulsory installation of alcohol interlocks in new commercial vehicles. Yet, it’s one thing to talk about these measures, and something else entirely to put these thoughts into action. Failure to deal with Europe’s drink driving problem will lead to more death, injury, and drink driving solicitors.

It’s in everyone’s best interests to crack down on drunk drivers. When in doubt, don’t have ‘just the one’ pint.



A marketing executive working on behalf of criminal defence clients.

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