Motorists in Scotland are being reminded of the tough legal and personal consequences of drink driving this festive season.
The Scottish Government, Road Safety Scotland (part of Transport Scotland), Police Scotland and their road safety partners launched the 2013 Festive Drink Drive campaign this month.
Less than one in four drivers in Scotland are aware that drink driving results in a criminal record which stays with them for a minimum of 20 years. This year’s campaign aims to raise awareness that there is no grey area for drink drivers in Scotland - no matter how little over the limit a driver may be, in the eyes of the law they are still a criminal.
Every month, over 20,000 drivers are stopped by the police in Scotland. Throughout the Christmas and New Year period the message is not to drink anything at all before driving as the risk of being caught is higher than ever before.
Cabinet Secretary for Justice, Kenny MacAskill said: “Our priority is to save lives. But some drivers are still not heeding the warnings and around 30 people are killed every year in Scotland due to drink driving.
‘‘Over 20,000 drivers are stopped by police in Scotland every month. Having even one alcoholic drink, then driving, makes you three times more likely to die in a car crash.
“Our message has always been clear - don’t ever drink and drive. You could face an automatic ban of 12 months, a fine of up to £5000, a lengthy criminal record, the possibility of a prison sentence, and an increased risk of losing your vehicle for good.
“We’re taking tough action with the powers we have, we are lowering the drink drive limit to bring Scotland into line with most other European nations. With further powers we could do so much more to make our roads even safer and save more lives.
‘‘We could allow police to carry out breath testing on drivers anytime, anywhere and review whether existing penalties are a sufficient deterrent to motorists who put other road users and pedestrians at risk.”
The latest figures reveal that approximately one in eight deaths on Scottish roads involve drivers who are over the legal limit. Research also shows that even just one alcoholic drink before driving makes you three times more likely to die in a car crash.
Superintendent Iain Murray, head of Road Policing at Police Scotland, said: “Every year we raise the issue of drink driving and every year there are still people who break the law with no consideration for others. Drink or drive, it’s your choice but you cannot do both. In Scotland there are over 17,000 police officers and there has never been a greater priority and focus on casualty reduction and making Scotland’s roads safer.
“If you think you are ok as you’ve only had ‘one’ or a couple of small drinks, think again. It doesn’t matter whether you’re just over the limit or well over the limit – you’re a drunk driver. There really is no excuse.
“If you are stopped by police and fail the breath test, then the fact that you couldn’t get public transport, you have an unexpected emergency to attend to or you thought it was a small measure, won’t make the slightest bit of difference to officers; you will be arrested.
‘‘Our message is clear, if you intend to drink or have been drinking - leave the car. Don’t risk it.”
In addition to a lengthy criminal record, anyone found to be over the current driving limit faces an automatic driving ban, having their car seized, a fine of up to £5000 and the possibility of a prison sentence. If caught driving over the limit the next morning, you face the same consequences as if you’d been caught the night before.
Lord Advocate, the Right Honourable Frank Mulholland QC, said: “Even if you are just over the limit, in the eyes of the law you are still a drunk driver and a criminal - there is no grey area. Drink driving is a serious offence and will be dealt with accordingly by the Scottish prosecution service.
“With an average of 30 drink driving fatalities each year the longer term consequences for other road users and pedestrians is devastating. Don’t waste your life or theirs.”
A new ad will feature throughout the festive period on TV, radio, online and in bar washrooms supported by PR, social media, field marketing and partnerships to remind drivers of the serious consequences and knock-on effects for them, their livelihoods and their families of drink driving.
Should you suspect someone of drink driving, please call the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or report it to your local police office by dialing 101. In an emergency, you can also dial 999.
Find out more by visiting www.dontriskit.info or the Road Safety Scotland Facebook page.
If convicted of driving or attempting to drive while above the legal alcohol limit, or impaired by alcohol or drugs, or fail to provide a specimen of breath for analysis or a specimen of blood or urine for a laboratory test, a driver can expect:
n Automatic loss of licence - a 12 month driving ban
n A criminal record - for a minimum of 20 years
n A risk of being fined up to £5,000
n A risk of being imprisoned for up to six months
n An increased risk of losing your vehicle
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 Festive Drink Drive campaign