Road safety charity Brake is calling for action to stamp out the offence.
The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) data, obtained by safety charity Brake through a Freedom of Information request, showed that in the past four years, there have been 5,181 repeat drink-drive offenders. Of those, the vast majority (4,879, or 94 percent) were caught twice, but 275 drivers were caught three times and one driver was caught an incredible six times in the same period.
At present, drivers who are caught driving or attempting to drive while above the legal blood alcohol limit or unfit through drink can receive an unlimited fine, between three and 11 points on their licence, a driving ban of at least one year, and six months in prison. But despite these potential punishments, Brake has expressed concern at the scale of repeat offending.
As a result, the organisation is calling for the increased use of driving bans by the courts, in order to keep unsafe drivers off the road. The charity points out that courts are able to impose a three-year driving ban for ‘high risk offenders’, which includes those convicted of two drink driving offences within 10 years.
The charity also wants the government to accelerate the introduction of alcohol interlocks as part of drink-drive offender rehabilitation programmes. The interlocks, which are already being used for drink-driver rehabilitation in Sweden and North America, require the driver to pass a breath test on an in-car breathalyser before starting the ignition. It’s a solution the government has already suggested it will investigate, but Brake wants the process fast-tracked to tackle the drink-driving “menace”.
“Driving over the alcohol limit can have devastating consequences, so it is shocking to see thousands of drivers have been caught drink driving at least twice in the past four years,” said Joshua Harris, the director of campaigns for Brake. “What is worse is that many of these drivers shouldn’t have been on the roads to offend again, if the full extent of the law had been used. It needs to be made clear to drivers that not a drop of alcohol before getting behind the wheel is safe – something which our current drink drive limit fails to do. The government must act now to tackle drink driving by implementing a zero-tolerance limit, investing in roads policing to provide a true deterrent to this dangerous driving and encouraging the courts to use the law to its fullest extent.
“Technology also has a role to play in tackling the menace of drink-driving. The use of alcohol interlocks must seriously be considered to prevent convicted drink-drive offenders from getting behind the wheel over the limit.”