“But I’m not a drink driver”

As Christmas approaches the Constabulary will, as always increase its focus on drink driving.  I recently stopped a driver on a Sunday morning on the M11, a routine stop for speeding. As I spoke with the female driver I noticed a smell of drink from within the car. I breath tested her and found her to be over the drink drive limit.

The driver’s reaction surprised me, “But I’m not a drink driver” as I showed her the result on my machine! It transpired that the lady had been out the night before, but not left sufficient time for her body to recover from the effects of alcohol in the morning.  A few hours later at the custody desk I read the charge of drink drive to her, and her only question was “does this make me a criminal”?

The reason I chose to write about this encounter was really to bring the problem of drink driving into perspective. It’s easy to think of yourself as broadly “not a drink driver” and “not a criminal”, but our responsibilities as motorists extend far beyond us acting like the stereotypical drink driver or criminal. The driver didn’t consider being over the limit as it did not fit with her idea of what or who a drink driver is.

The driver lost her licence this week and will suffer a 12 month ban. She will also pay a total of £580 to the court (£450 fine, £45 victim surcharge and £85 costs). I also removed her car from the M11 costing her a further £120 recovery charge.  She will also attend a speed awareness course in regards to her speeding offence.

Sgt Paul Rogerson