The true cost of drink driving – is it worth it?
The financial consequences of drink driving can be huge but the true cost can be much greater, motorists in the county are being warned.
The Institute of Advanced Motorists calculates that the average drink drive conviction costs the driver between £20,000 and £50,000 in fines, insurance, solicitor’s fees and lost earnings.
But, as Gloucestershire Road Safety Partnership steps up its winter drink drive campaign this month, convicted drink drivers in the county are warning that the impact can hit much harder.
Gloucestershire mum-of-two Suzanne (not real name) was banned from driving for 20 months after having two or three glasses of wine with lunch – and says the impact on her family life has been huge.
Suzanne said: “We live in the country and I have two children at school in Gloucester. My eldest child was due to take GCSE exams and I couldn’t take him to and from them.
“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-a-mile walk to get to them. I pray that they don’t get taken ill as I can’t get to them quickly now.
“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 conviction will be on my licence for 11 years and I’ll 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.”
Figures show that, on average, three drivers a day fail a breath test in Gloucestershire, something that is reflected nationally. In Gloucestershire last year, two collisions every week involved a drink driver and, from these, 31 people were seriously injured or killed.
Last year, 69 drivers out of 1,835 stopped were arrested for drink driving during December. That is why this year’s campaign, Eat, Think, Be Merry, will step up roadside checks in Gloucestershire, with the county’s Roads Policing Unit being joined by Special Constables for the first time throughout December. The campaign will also target places where people buy alcohol.
Chief Fire Officer and head of operations at the Road Safety Partnership, Jon Hall, said: “We know that drink driving can lead to a ban, prison, injury or even death. The point we try to make again and again is that these consequences don’t just impact on the driver. Suzanne’s lesson is one people learn in Gloucestershire every week and it’s just not worth it for the sake of a drink.”
Cllr Will Windsor-Clive, cabinet member for fire, planning and infrastructure, said: “If anyone was in any doubt, the consequences of drink driving are massive and can reach much further than you might imagine. It’s never worth the risk – to the driver or their family.”