Thousands still drink and drive

NEARLY 6,000 drink or drug-drivers were caught in Suffolk in just five years, new figures show today.

NEARLY 6,000 drink or drug-drivers were caught in Suffolk in just five years, new figures show today.

Although the year-on-year trend appears to be downwards, the latest government figures show 5,864 motorists lost their licence in the county between 2003 and 2007. Nationally the numbers convicted are not far short of 500,000.

The overwhelming majority of the convictions were for those caught behind the wheel while over the legal limit for alcohol.

No figures are available yet for 2008, however during the Suffolk police's Christmas drink-driving crackdown in December last year officers arrested 310 motorists for driving while drunk, compared to 94 in December 2007.

Half of those arrested were at least twice the legal alcohol limit.

Suffolk Constabulary believes the figures are a vindication of their strategy in combating the menace of drinking and driving.

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A police spokesman said: “These figures show how many people over recent years have ended up with a criminal record because of their actions.

“This may have lead to them losing their job and their lifestyle may have changed considerably - drink driving has the potential to ruin your life.

“It can also ruin the life of your loved ones or the life of a complete stranger. You should ask yourself how you would feel if you'd had a drink and then drive and subsequently you killed someone in a collision.

“The offence of 'causing death by careless driving whilst under the influence of drink or drugs' carries a maximum penalty of 14 years imprisonment. The message is clear; don't drink and drive. You might have to live with the consequences forever.”

However, a spokeswoman from Campaign Against Drink-Driving (CADD) was reticent the message about the dangers was getting through nationally. The organisation believes the government could do more to stop people.

Over the same five-year period 465,552 drink and drug-drivers were caught around the country, although from 2004 to 2007 the trend was downward from 96,238 to 89,223.

Carole Whittingham, who set up CADD after her 27-year-old son Steven was killed by a drink-driver 17 years ago, said: “I'm not sure the campaign against drinking and driving is working. We work tirelessly, but we have a government who is not willing to listen.

“We have got the worst drink-driving figures in just about the whole of Europe and yet we have a government which says let's have 24-hour drinking.

“My son was killed by a drink-driver. To say it is devastating is not the right word. It's much more. It's life-changing. I know my life can never go back to how it was.”

Drink or drug-driving convictions 2003-07

2003 1,213

2004 1,332

2005 1,103

2006 1,158

2007 1,058

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