According to statistics from the Ministry of Justice and released by LV Insurance, 2% of drivers who have been caught and convicted for drink driving, have not been banned. 1,480 drivers out of 55,539 convicted managed to leave the court with their licences in tact.
If a driver is caught and convicted of driving while over the legal limit, the automatic penalty is a ban. However, a ban is not compulsory, and the courts are given the power to issue the penalty at their own discretion.
This ‘discretion’ has meant that up and down the country courts are making decisions that vary wildly from region to region. So it really depends on where a motorist lives as to what level of punishment they might receive.
For example, a drink driver living in London or Suffolk, is 3 times more likely to escape a ban, when compared with those motorists in Cumbria and Warwickshire, where the courts appear to be much more strict.
These figures come just a week or so after the courts were slammed for allowing drivers who have reached 12 penalty points to continue to drive.
Motoring safety groups are said to be outraged at these figures fearing for the safety of other, law abiding road users. They have condemned any court that allows a convicted drink driver to escape a ban.
The Executive Director of the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety, Robert Gifford, comments, “Drinking and driving is a serious offence and remains the biggest single killer on our roads. It is important that we have consistent sentencing across the country and that the courts give this offence the significance it deserves”.
Gifford goes on to say “It is very worrying to think that some drivers are being let off lightly when they will place other road users at risk”.
However, not every one is against the leniency that some courts are showing drivers. A spokesperson from the Ministry of Justice has spoken out to defend the approach, “The number of people killed in drink drive accidents has fallen by more than 75 per cent since 1979 but we know we need to continue to take tough action against the small minority of drivers who still ignore the limit.”
The spokesperson continues, “The law is very clear that drink drivers should be banned from driving, unless there are exceptional circumstances in which case judges can use their discretion. They can also be imprisoned for a maximum of 6 months in prison and receive a £5000 fine. However, sentencing in individual cases is rightly a matter for our independent judiciary who make their decisions with the full facts of the case”.
This article was brought to you by Think Insurance, specialists in motor trade insurance.