The dangers of drink driving are well known, but a road safety charity is urging those who ignore the risks to consider the possible financial penalties. Although IAM Roadsmart says the fine for drink-driving usually totals around £5,000, the charity claims a conviction can cost drivers as much as £70,000 in the long term.

Drivers convicted of drink driving face a potentially unlimited fine, but IAM Roadsmart has used the £5,000 figure to make its calculations. In addition, the organisation says drivers who plead not guilty in court face an average legal fee of £11,000, while increased insurance premiums total £13,500 over five years after a driving disqualification.

The charity also added a £2,000 fee for using public transport while banned from driving, and a massive £38,500 cost of lost earnings during a ban. That final figure, IAM Roadsmart says, is based on an average salary, so the cost for some drivers may in fact be much higher.

Drinking beer or alcoho while driving a car

“In the run up to Christmas this year, many people’s drinking habits will have changed as a result of the coronavirus,” said Neil Greig, IAM Roadsmart’s director of policy and research. “So, whether you’re raising a glass for the festive season at home or, where you’re able, in a restaurant or pub, it’s important to remember that an extra drink comes with a huge hidden cost if it pushes you over the limit.

“Drink driving wrecks lives and is totally unacceptable in any circumstance. However, some people still think they are safe to drive when they’ve had just a couple of drinks or are using home measures, which can quickly push them over the limit. 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.”

Man sitting at bar with car key and alcoholic drink

Meanwhile roads minister Baroness Vere said the government was continuing to fight drink-driving through public awareness campaigns and enforcement of the law.

“Drink-driving kills,” she said. “So during the festive season don’t be tempted to have a drink before getting behind the wheel – it’s irresponsible and incredibly dangerous. We are working tirelessly, through schemes like our award winning Think! campaign, to tackle attitudes and behaviours that could lead to people drink driving, and we continue to invest in policing and enforcement on our roads.”