Monday, August 1, 2011

Well I'm not shocked

We all know that alcohol impairs judgement and physical ability if taken in enough quantities, the problem of course being that what the state thinks is enough to impair those faculties is at odds somewhat with what those who drink thinks that affects them. No, I'm not saying that people should drive when drunk, far from it, but it's what makes you drunk that's different from person to person. When I first started out going into pubs, it was quite noticeable who could and couldn't hold their drinks, in the same way it's also very obvious who can go slightly over the legal limits for alcohol when driving and who shouldn't be allowed to drive even when stone cold sober.
A police campaign against summer drink-driving caught a higher proportion of motorists driving under the influence compared to last year.
The June crackdown in England, Wales and Northern Ireland saw a drop in the total number of drivers stopped.
But there was an 8% rise in positive, refused or failed breath tests, said the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo).
Road safety campaigners said the results were "shocking".
In total police stopped 88,629 motorists, of whom 5,373 or 6.06% tested positive, refused or failed a breath test, compared to 5.6% last June - an 8% rise.
There was an increase in the proportion of under 25-year-olds testing positive, by 15% compared to 2010. The number of over 25-year-olds who tested positive rose by 7%.
Now I wonder just how many of those drivers were an actual danger to themselves or the public? I'm sure some were, however I'm equally sure that a lot of those others would not have been picked up unless specifically targeted as they would not have been driving in a manner likely to have caused an accident. Yes I know the police use an artificial level of 80mg of alcohol in the blood as their tipping point, it's even lower on the continent, though they don't have a problem with people having to travel miles just to find an open pub with most establishments selling some sort of alcohol, even McDonalds.
No I'm not encouraging people to drive drunk, I'm against random testing, I simply believe that police should only stop motorists if they have good reason too. Change the law if necessary to having far harsher penalties for having an accident whilst intoxicated, even charge with manslaughter instead of dangerous driving and the minimal penalties you get for that offence.
As it is, people got fined, lost licenses and possibly livelihoods all because the police decided to have a crackdown not on people driving badly, but on people just driving.
Yes we need to address the problem of drunk and incapable drivers, but no, this wasn't the way to go about it.

3 annotations:

Curmudgeon said...

Oh what a shock, a rise from 5.6% to 6.06%! That's surely well within the expected limits of fluctuation and signifies nothing.

Also, these kind of stats are notoriously susceptible to variations in sample. One year you may test loads of drivers on an effectively random basis, get very few positive results as a proportion, but quite a few in absolute terms. The next year you may test a lot fewer drivers, but target them much better, so you get fewer positive results in total, but a higher percentage.

The changes from one to another can both be presented as bad news.

There's already a maximum sentence of 14 years for "causing death by careless driving when under the influence of drink or drugs" which sounds harsh enough to me. And heavy sentences have no deterrent effect in such cases anyway as there is no mens rea.

Tattyfalarr said...

It's violent criminals who are worst affected by alcohol, apparently. It induces uncontrollable murderous rage coupled with instant long term and utterly believable memory loss.

Well...magistrates and judges utterly believe it does. :/

JuliaM said...

"..and who shouldn't be allowed to drive even when stone cold sober."

I'd like to see the police doing more about these, frankly!