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Suzanne’s Story: What a drink drive conviction cost me

| 14.12.13

Married mum-of-two Suzanne from Gloucestershire is currently banned for drink driving following a collision on her way home from lunch:

I’d had two or three glasses of wine with lunch. I felt fine and I thought it would be ok to drive. I was only three miles from home, after all.

Unfortunately I had a bump, colliding side on with an oncoming car as I went round a bend. Apparently I veered over the centre line of the road. Thankfully nobody was hurt – I would never ever have forgiven myself if they had been.

The police were called and both parties were breathalysed, which is standard I believe. I was arrested for being over the limit, taken to the police station and held in the cells for over four hours.

The whole thing seemed surreal, I couldn’t believe something like that could happen to me. I’d never been in a police station before and had a clean licence. I felt absolutely shocked and humiliated.

I was bailed on condition that I make an appointment to attend two sessions with a counsellor for the Independence Trust to talk through my actions and what was likely to happen next. Rather stupidly I thought that involved a fine and some points on my licence. I was horrified to hear that I would definitely be banned for driving for at least 12 months. I had no idea how severe the penalty would be.

It was about six weeks after my arrest before I was due to appear in court. We live in a small village community and news spreads like wild fire. I really didn’t want anyone to see me.

Waiting for my court appearance was a horrible, nerve-wracking experience. And having to stand in the dock while my immediate future was being decided by a magistrate was just awful. I felt so humiliated.

I was banned for 15 months. I had to pay a fine of £360 and my licence was taken away.

My family were so ashamed and disappointed in me, as I was with myself. I had no idea how far reaching the consequences of my conviction would be.

School runs: we live in the country and I have two children to take to and from school in Gloucester. I was part of a rota with other parents and my loss of licence meant I could no longer take my children to school.

My eldest child was due to take his GCSE exams and I couldn’t personally take him to and from them. With some complicated planning and my husband having to rearrange his work schedule, through friends and local taxi companies we managed – but it was awful.

The same was true of sports fixtures and play dates for my children, which took a lot of planning and a lot of favours. I was determined my own stupidity wouldn’t impact on their lives.

The worst for me was the fact that my parents, who are in their late 80s, live an hour-and-a-half away. It now takes a taxi, two train journeys and a half-mile walk to get to them. I pray that they don’t get taken ill as I cannot get to them quickly now.

For me personally, I feel so very isolated. We live in the country and I am now reliant on my husband, my friends and a local taxi driver. And I still have another seven months to go.
The effects are so wide reaching. My eldest child will soon be eligible to drive but I won’t be able to help him learn.
We have relatives in Canada but I will never be able to visit as they won’t accept anyone with a drinking under the influence conviction. Similarly, if we want to go on holiday to America I’ll need to attend an interview with the American Embassy in London.

My insurance premiums will be very expensive and it’s unlikely that I’ll be able to hire a car or be given a courtesy car when my car is in for service. My conviction will be on my licence for 11 years and I will have a permanent criminal record. All for a few glasses of wine with lunch.

Imagine if I’d hurt someone – it wouldn’t just be the 15 months of regret and recriminations – it would have been a lifetime. Those few glasses were the most expensive I have ever had.

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