426 off the road

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

OVER 400 people in South Down have been banned from our roads after being caught drink-driving.
In total 426 people lost their licences for driving while under the influence of drink over the last five years.
The figures from the Driver & Vehicle Agency (DVA) show that 2011 and 2015 had the highest number of disqualifications for drink-driving.
UUP Councillor Glenn Barr says the figures are "worrying to say the least, one drink-driver is too many".
He made the point that it's not always offenders returning home from a night out.
“A lot of people discovered drink driving are often next-day drivers. Maybe they are out driving at 7am after a night of alcohol and think they're okay but the drink is still in their system.
“The message really is that alcohol can remain in your system for some time and people must be vigilant over how much they had to drink and when is safe to drive."
New police powers came into force just before Christmas which allow police to conduct random breath tests.
The Stormont law change has handed officers in Northern Ireland the ability to randomly test people without reasonable suspicion of an offence.
Previously, a car could only be pulled over if it appeared the driver was under the influence.
Councillor Barr is supportive of this proactive policing.
“This is to be welcomed. Indeed, my friend's wife who works in Belfast was stopped three times in one week and breathalysed at these random checkpoints in Scarva and Banbridge. But if it saves lives, it's positive."
Attitudes to drink-driving have changed for the better in recent years, according to Councillor Barr.
“Certainly people know that they shouldn't get behind the wheel of a car if they've been drinking. There are consequences, indeed possibly lethal consequences to driving impaired through drink.
“The PSNI alongside the general public and elected representatives should be praised for the pressure they are putting on drink-drivers."
Following the Christmas and New Year celebrations, the PSNI finds an increase in the number of drivers caught drink-driving.
Already this year throughout Northern Ireland 241 drivers have been arrested on suspicion of being under the influence between 24 November and 18 December.
Chief Inspector Diane Pennington said that they constantly warn drivers not to take the risk and drink-drive.
She said that despite PSNI warnings not to drive, people do not listen.
“It is disappointing that despite our warnings, there are still people who completely disregard the safety of themselves and others by continuing this shameful and incredibly dangerous practice.
“Just one drink can impair ability to drive," said Chief Inspector Pennington, who added that they have stopped some drivers who have been so drunk that they "could barely stand".
“Just do not take the risk of having even one drink if you are driving. The consequences can be catastrophic."


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