Lockdown could lead to increase in drink driving

Drink-drive related deaths and accidents on the rise

Be wary of home drinking, warns leading motoring offence solicitor as he predicts a rise in drink driving during second coronavirus lockdown.

Paul Loughlin warns the closure of pubs and bars will result in more people drinking at home and lead to an increased risk of people inadvertently being over the drink drive limit the following morning.

The call comes as the national law firm reports a 154% increase in people contacting them about drink driving related enquiries in the height of the first lockdown, between April and June this year.

While Stephensons experienced an initial drop in enquiries when the Government’s strict measures were introduced in March, these then steadily grew over the course of the lockdown as people ventured back onto the roads and consumed more alcohol at home.

The fear is that the second lockdown, taking place closer to Christmas festivities and during the colder winter months, could result in a higher number of drink driving offences being committed.

Alcohol consumption increased during the first national lockdown when pubs and restaurants were forced to close, and people flocked to the supermarket to purchase alcohol.

An extra £160 million was spent on alcohol during this period and, according to a King’s College study, a third of people (29%) reported they drank more alcohol than they would normally.

Police forces across the UK also experienced an increase in driving offences during the first national lockdown. Despite Covid-19 lockdown restrictions, Ayrshire Police Division recorded an increase of 54 per cent of cases between April 1 and June 30 – a rise from 99 in the same period in 2019 to 153 in 2020. Between March 23 to July 31 2020, South Wales Police saw drink driving arrests increase by almost 9% compared to arrests made during the same period in 2019.

With the second national lockdown taking place during winter, closer to the festive period when more alcohol is traditionally consumed and when the dark, cold weather may see more people use their cars rather than walk, there is a strong possibility drink driving related enquiries will rise once again.

Paul Loughlin, solicitor and a specialist in motoring law at Stephensons Solicitors LLP, said: “As the country enters its second lockdown and pubs and bars close during one of the periods we usually associate with drinking and merriment, there is a strong chance that the amount of alcohol consumed at home will once again increase.

“This leads to a number of dangers, including an increased likelihood of people being over the drink drive limit when they get into their vehicles the following morning. Generally, people are more generous with their measures at home and it is much easier to lose track of how much they are drinking. As a result, people may inadvertently be consuming a lot more alcohol than if they were in a pub.

“I urge people to keep a handle on their home measures and ensure they are within the legal drink drive limit before driving their vehicles the following morning.”

Here is a reminder of the drink driving penalties people can face if they are found guilty of drink driving:

Being in charge of a vehicle while above the legal limit or unfit through drink

  • Up to 3 months’ imprisonment
  • Up to £2,500 fine
  • A possible driving ban

Driving or attempting to drive while above the legal limit or unfit through drink

  • Up to 6 months’ imprisonment
  • An unlimited fine
  • A driving ban for at least 1 year (minimum of 3 years if convicted twice in 10 years)

Causing death by careless driving when under the influence of drink

  • 14 years’ imprisonment
  • An unlimited fine
  • A ban from driving for at least 2 years
  • An extended driving test before your licence is returned

A conviction for drink-driving also means:

  • Your car insurance costs will increase significantly
  • If you drive for work, your employer will see your conviction on your licence
  • You may have trouble travelling to countries like the USA