Younger motorists most likely to be over the limit

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A senior police officer says he is “very concerned” by figures showing young motorists are the most likely to be caught drink or drug-driving in West Yorkshire.

Of the 189 people caught over the limit in the county during last December’s festive drink-driving crackdown, the most common age for suspects was 25 to 34.

West Yorkshire Police say 157 men and 32 women were arrested, with 70 arrests in Leeds, 42 in Bradford, 28 in Wakefield, 19 in Calderdale and 30 in Kirklees.

The warning comes as the force’s Christmas campaign against drink and drug-driving, launched today, sees all suspects’ age, gender and home town or city, though not their name, revealed on its website the next day along with details of the offence.

Assistant Chief Constable Mark Milsom said: ‘‘Last year we saw the largest number of arrests for drink and drug driving related offences for both men and women fall between the ages of 25 to 34 years. This is a generation of people that have grown up with the current drink-driving laws and it’s a very concerning trend.

‘‘It’s vitally important these people, many of which will be forging their careers and who may have a young family, realise the life-limiting consequences associated with a drink or drug driving conviction.

‘‘There’s also the very real dangers associated with not being fit to drive. Each year we deal with a number of fatal or very serious incidents in which driving while under the influence of drink or drugs has been a major factor.

“This has lead to the deaths of innocent drivers and pedestrians and the awful task many officers have of standing on a family’s doorstep and telling them that someone’s never coming home.”

Inspector Joanne Field, who leads West Yorkshire Police’s Roads Policing Unit, said: ‘‘Driving while under the influence of drink or drugs is always a significant danger.

“But at Christmas the risks are even more prevalent with darker nights, bad weather and sadly, more people taking the risk by drinking and then getting behind the wheel.

“Each year we stop hundreds of people who are clearly not in a fit state to drive through drink or drugs.

“The 2014 campaign is about hammering home the message that on a daily basis people across West Yorkshire are risking theirs and other people’s lives and that drink driving has extremely serious consequences.”

This year, West Yorkshire’s most senior detective Dave Knopwood was dismissed by the force after a court banned him from driving for 12 months and fined him £1,000 for failing to provide a specimen for a drink-driving breath test.

A survey last month, 50 years on from the first anti-drink-driving campaign, revealed that nearly all motorists would be ashamed to be caught over the limit.

But 18 to 24-year-olds are seven times more likely to think drinking and driving is acceptable than 55 to 64-year-olds.

And research from the AA found that women are kicking the drink-drive habit more slowly than men, although males are still the main offenders.

Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive of road safety charity Brake, said: “We are calling on the UK government to take action on drink driving.

“We have the highest drink-drive limit in Europe, sending out the dreadful message that a drink or two before driving is acceptable.”