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One in 60 drink drivers reoffend

Press release: 21/11/2014

  • Since 2010, more than 4,000 convicted drink drivers have been caught driving while over the limit again
  • The drunkest driver so far in 2014 was 12 times over the limit when caught behind the wheel
  • Each year 28,000 'high risk' drink driving offenders request a medical test to get their driving licence reinstated
  • Drink driving arrests peak in December, when 40% more people are caught over the limit than in any other month

Despite a number of hard-hitting advertising campaigns aimed at making drink driving socially unacceptable and tough sentences for those convicted, thousands of drink drivers go on to reoffend within three years, according to new research.

Figures obtained by a freedom of information request by LV= car insurance reveal that one in 60 drink drivers caught since 2010 had previously been banned for drink driving.

Official DVLA and police data shows that over 4,000 drivers have received multiple disqualifications for a drink drive offence in the past four years. Their licences had been returned because they were considered safe to drive when their initial ban expired, but they then went on to drink drive again. Over the same period, the average length of a driving ban decreased by 12%, with the average ban now lasting less than a year and half (514 days).

Last year, more than 52,000 'high-risk' offenders were placed on DVLA's disqualification register. These are drink drivers who are more than two and half times over the legal limit, who have two or more drink drive offences within a 10-year period or who refuse to give breath, blood or urine samples.

When a driving ban expires, high-risk offenders can reapply for their licence only when they have passed a medical test to prove that they are no longer alcohol-dependent. Since 2010, approximately 28,000 such high-risk offenders a year have requested this medical-test in order to get back on the roads.

In the run up to Christmas, drink driving arrests peak across the UK. According to official police data nearly 40% more drink drivers are caught in December compared to an average month.

A number of extreme cases have been revealed by the police data, with 2014's drunkest driver caught by Bedfordshire Police with 423mg of alcohol per 100ml of breath - meaning they were 12 times over the legal limit. Durham Constabulary caught a motorist who had 331mg/100ml breath (more than nine times over the limit) and Gloucestershire Police arrested one driver with 238mg of alcohol per 100m of breath (nearly seven times over the limit).

Separate figures released by the Department for Transport in August 2014 show that 230 people were killed in drink drive accidents in 2012, with around 6,630 accidents in 2012 linked to alcohol consumption.

While most drivers understand the dangers of drink driving, there is still a small minority who are persistently offending. It is disappointing that the average length of a driving ban has fallen as these motorists need to be kept off the roads. Those who drink and drive not only risk their own safety but the safety of other road users and the authorities should not shy away from banning them from the roads for as long as possible.

John O'Roarke, Managing Director of LV= car insurance

Top 10 regions with the most drunk drivers in 2013

Police force

Total number of drivers caught
for drink driving in 2013

Central Scotland Police

5,637*

Greater Manchester Police

3,399

Thames Valley Police

2,865

Devon and Cornwall Police

2,457

Kent Police

1,981

South Wales Police (Heddlu De Cymru)

1,812

West Mercia Police

1,635

Essex Police

1,500

Merseyside Police

1,408

Nottinghamshire Police

1,396

*This is for all of Scotland


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For further information please contact:

Vanessa Chance, vanessa.chance@lv.com, 0208 256 6996/ 07947 380074


Notes

  1. More than £1.6 million has been spent (per year) on Think! Drink Drive advertising campaigns since 2002-2003 to 2013-2014. Source: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/291955/drink-drive-costs.pdf
  2. According to an FOI to the DVLA (FOIR4122). Of 265,842 high-risk or banned drivers placed on DVLA registers between 01 January 2010 and 13 September 2014, 4,253 were repeat offenders -1.6% or approx. one in 60.
  3. According to an FOI to the DVLA (FOIR4122). Between 01 January 2010 and 13 September 2014, 4,253 received more than one disqualification.
  4. The length of a driving ban is a matter for the Courts with DVLA recording the information provided by them. From the information that DVLA holds the average length of a ban in days has been calculated for each year. It was 587 days in 2010 and 514 days in 2014 (12.4% fall).
  5. According to an FOI to the DVLA (FOIR4122).
  6. According to DVLA, you are classed as a high risk offender if you were disqualified: with an alcohol level of over 200 milligrams (mg) in 100 millilitres (ml) of blood, 87.5mg in 100ml of breath, or 267.5mg in 100ml of urine (2.5 times over the legal limit), twice in 10 years for being above the legal limit, or for failing to supply a breath, blood or urine sample for testing. Any other driving offences are classed as non-high risk. Source: https://www.gov.uk/reapply-licence-revoked
  7. Source: https://www.gov.uk/reapply-licence-revoked
  8. According to an FOI to the DVLA (FOIR4122). Based on an average of figures for 2010-2013, 28,148 high-risk offenders per year have applied for a medical examination in order to recover their licence.
  9. According to FOI to police forces, an average month sees approximately 3,927 arrests for drink driving. An average December sees 5,414 arrests, which is 37.8% greater - approx. 40%.
  10. According to FOI to police forces, the most over the limit drivers were caught by Bedfordshire (423mg/100ml breath), Durham (331mg/100ml breath) and Gloucestershire (238mg/100ml breath).
  11. Source: www.gov.uk/government/publications/reported-road-casualties-great-britain-annual-report-2013 (Table RAS51001)

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