The volume of drink and drug driving offences in 2020 have fallen by 14 per cent, though some areas have seen an increase despite a huge fall in traffic volumes since the first lockdown was enforced in March.
Police in the City of London, Humberside and Wiltshire said they recorded more driving under the influence cases this year than they did in 2019.
The figures were released amid concerns there could be another wave of offences over the festive period, with experts estimating that the financial cost of being caught at the wheel over the legal alcohol limit is £70,000.
Did DUI offences increase in your area? Some 24 of the 43 UK police forces provided data on the volume of drink and drug driving offences recorded in their areas in 2020 compared with 2019
Of the 43 UK police forces who received a freedom of information request, 24 responded with drink and drug-driving offence numbers for the year until mid-November.
Humberside Police recorded the highest annual increase, up 131 per cent year-on-year with 104 drink or drug-driving offences recorded this year compared to 45 in the same period last year.
City of London Police registered a 25 per cent rise (from 134 in 2019 to 167 in 2020) and Wiltshire Police recorded a five per cent rise, with 1,262 instances of driving under the influence in 2020 compared with 1,207 in 2019.
These increases are somewhat concerning given the significantly lower traffic volumes experienced this year due to lockdowns and restrictions implemented by Government to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.
This saw traffic volumes fall by as much as 80 per cent in some parts of the country in April, though the average number of cars on the road over the previous nine months has been substantially down on previous years.
Data for the 24 responding forces for both years can be seen here, broken down into months
Analysis of the available FOI data by CarWow showed that the monthly average of DUI offences across the UK dropped from 2,969.75 in 2019 to 2,772 in 2020.
The total number of incidents fell from 35,637 to 30,492.
There were a number of months that saw an increase in DUI’s when compared to 2019, including May (545 more in 2020), June (173 more), July (184 more) and August (351 more).
However, it should be noted that stats for 2020 are only available for the year up until midway through November – and December is usually the month where drink driving offences peak.
The total number of driving under the influence incidents fell from 35,637 in 2019 to 30,492 this year
When looking at drink driving incidents over the festive period, London Metropolitan Police recorded the most offences in 2019 (440), followed by Essex Police (393) and forces in Northern Ireland (275).
James Hind, CEO of the car buying comparison that issued the FOI request, said: ‘One of the reasons we have seen an increase in some areas could be because people have become chancers; they might think that because the roads are quiet they will be able to get away with having a drink or two and getting behind the wheel.
‘This way of thinking is absolutely unacceptable and could cost lives.
‘No matter how ‘fine’ you feel after a pint, there is absolutely no circumstance wherein you should get behind the wheel after drinking. Always have a designated driver, especially at this time of year.’
Total cost of being caught drink driving is a staggering £70,000
IAM RoadSmart has estimated that the full cost of being caught driving over the legal alcohol limit can be in the region of £70,000
The UK’s largest independent road safety charity, IAM RoadSmart, has calculated that the personal financial cost of drink driving could be as high as £70,000 or more when taking into account fines, legal fees, higher car insurance premiums, alternative transport costs and potential loss of earnings following conviction.
The charity’s research team found that costs following a drink drive conviction now include:
– fines of £5,000, although since these are now unlimited this could be much more
– legal fees of £11,000 which is the average following conviction after a not-guilty plea
– increased insurance premiums of £13,500 over five years after a driving disqualification
– £2,000 for taxi and public transport costs for alternative transport during a ban
– £38,500 loss of earnings for 15 months following a conviction, based on an average UK salary.
Neil Greig, IAM RoadSmart director, said: ‘The £70,000 impact of being convicted of drink driving is very sobering.
‘This should be more than enough, let alone the thought of causing any other suffering for yourself, your family or the other people you put at risk on the road, to stop those drivers who are tempted to have an extra drink and get behind the wheel.
‘Our advice is therefore quite simply to always stick with ‘None for the Road’.’
Emptier roads as a result of lockdowns, tiered restrictions and more people working from home has been blamed for an increase in speeding in Britain this year.
The Department for Transport’s latest speed compliance statistics for January to June found evidence of a sharp year-on-year increase in motorists breaking limits from mid-March, just as first Covid-19 restrictions were put in place.
It found that 30mph zones were most commonly exceeded by drivers, rising to 63 per cent during the lockdown compared to 56 per cent over the same period in 2019.
Road safety chiefs have already signalled their intention to crackdown on drink drivers in the UK, which could see ‘alcolocks’ introduced,
These devices fitted in cars can be installed in vehicles belonging to previously-convicted drink drivers and would require them to pass a breath test before they drive.
The Government will also look at issuing police with more advanced breath tests, which can give more accurate readings, it has been reported.
Latest stats show that an estimated 5,890 road accidents involved at least one driver who was over the alcohol limit in 2018, up from 5,700 in the previous year.
Department for Transport figures also suggest that a disproportionate number of women are killed and injured in drink-drive-related accidents.
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