A review by the car insurance comparison website, MoneySupermarket has found that Hereford is the drink and drug drive capital of the UK, with 2.30 convictions for every 1,000 drivers.

Overall, the drink or drug driving rates are on the decline – almost a third down from 2017, but there are exceptions.

Data analysis

Traditionally, December always sees a spike in drink and drug driving offences; figures released for 2017 shows that 179 motorists were caught for the offence each day in December, but across the last twelve months, convictions have fallen from 1.47 per 1,000 drivers to just 1.05.

The figure for Hereford sits at 2.30 per 1,000 drivers, well over double the average.

MoneySupermarket has analysed the data from over 6 million insurance quotes for the last twelve months, along with the country’s highest area, it also shows the most at risk profession – plumbers rate at 17.26 per 1,000 and the lowest drink and drug drive area – London (between 0.45 & 0.67).

The data analysis also shows that the 17-24-year-old age group who drink or drug drive has increased by around 10% and that men are five times more likely to risk drink or drug driving than women.

While these statistics paint a colourful picture as to just how prevalent drink or drug driving is, there’s no evidence regarding the reasoning; it’s thought that London has the lowest rate purely due to the better public transport infrastructure.

Identifying the limit

A further study by Swinton Insurance may hold some of the answers; their study shows that nine out of ten drivers couldn’t identify the legal driving limit for alcohol, even when given a list of options. And with Scotland having a further reduced limit than the rest of the UK, it can be quite confusing.

Unit of measurement England, Wales & Northern Ireland Scotland
Microgrammes per 100 millilitres of breath 35 22
Milligrammes per 100 millilitres of blood 80 50
Milligrammes per 100 millilitres of urine 107 67

Rebecca Ashton, head of driving behaviour at IAM RoadSmart states: “The problem with these limits is that no one can translate them into how many drinks or units they can have, and still be legal to drive. It varies substantially from person to person, depending on things such as age, weight and metabolism”.

With that said, alcohol is one of the most predictable reactions when it comes to leaving the body – an almost exact rate of .016 Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) per hour, which is roughly one unit; three pints of strong beer, 3 large glasses of wine will take around 11 hours to completely leave your system.

The penalties

Alcohol can severely impact your driving ability – even just one glass or one pint can dull your reaction times, lower your ability to process information and slow your hand-eye coordination, so penalties are harsh. You could face imprisonment, a ban and an unlimited fine, depending on the severity of your offence.

Being in charge of a vehicle while above the legal limit or unfit through drink:
3 months’ imprisonment
Up to £2,500 fine
Possible driving ban

Driving or attempting to drive while above the legal limit or unfit through drink:
6 months’ imprisonment
Unlimited fine
Driving ban for at least 1 year (3 years if convicted twice in ten years)

Refusing to provide a specimen of breath, blood or urine for analysis:
6 months’ imprisonment
Unlimited fine
Driving ban for at least 1 year

Along with the legal repercussions, a driving ban for drink or drugs will affect your insurance – most insurance companies will want to know for ten years and could weight your insurance premium by as much as 121%, while some companies will refuse to insure you.

It’s worth noting that drug driving carries similarly harsh penalties, and it isn’t just contained to illegal drugs, some medicinal drugs can also see you being prosecuted for the offence, these include: Clonazepam, Diazepam, Flunitrazepam, Lorazepam, Methadone, Morphine, Oxazepam, Temazepam and Amphetamine, although the limit for these prescription drugs is set higher than a regularly prescribed dosage, if there’s any doubt, you should take advice from your pharmacist or doctor.

Drink or drug driving is illegal for good reason, the general advice is that if you’re going to be drinking, no matter how small an amount, you should leave the car at home and not risk it. Be aware that the offence of ‘Being in charge of a vehicle’ doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to be driving it.

What do you think of drink drivers? Should they face tougher penalties? Have you ever been convicted of the offence? Is it fair that prescription drug users face prosecution? Let us know in the comments.

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