UK

Drug and drink-drivers could be disqualified at the roadside

Police chiefs are in early talks about plans that could see officers able to instantly disqualify drivers caught under the influence.

Police chiefs are in early discussions over plans to give officers the power to disqualify drink or drug-drivers at the side of the road
Car keys next to a pint glass Police chiefs are in early discussions over plans to give officers the power to disqualify drink or drug-drivers at the side of the road (Philip Toscano/PA)

Police could get the power to disqualify drink or drug-drivers instantly at the roadside.

Force chiefs are in early discussions looking at the type of tests that could be used and the legal changes needed to make the move possible.

Chief Constable Jo Shiner, the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) lead for roads policing, also wants tougher punishments for drivers who kill while under the influence, including potential murder charges.

She said: “The ability for us to be able to disqualify people either for drink or drug-driving by the roadside would mean that we can immediately take that risk off the road.

Miriam Briddon, who was killed by a drunk driver in a head-on collision in 2014.
Miriam Briddon Miriam Briddon, who was killed by a drunk driver in a head-on collision in 2014.

“And those people haven’t got the ability to be behind the wheel, particularly if they’ve blown well over the legal limit.”

The idea of instant disqualification is supported by Ceinwen Briddon, who campaigned for tougher sentences for fatal drivers after her 21-year-old daughter Miriam was killed in a head-on collision with a drunk driver.

Gareth Entwhistle, then 34, was jailed after admitting causing death by undue care while over the prescribed drink-drive limit in 2015.

He served half of a five-year jail term and was banned from driving for five years.

Ms Briddon’s campaigning spurred on a change in the law where those found guilty of causing death by dangerous driving can face a life sentence.

Ms Shiner said: “We should have greater sentencing and far greater sentences particularly for those people who do kill or seriously injure people on the roads.

“I liken it to some of the homicide investigations, to some of the sentences that we get for murders, I actually do believe that if someone makes that decision to get behind the wheel, under the influence of drink or drugs, that is a conscious decision they have made to get into a vehicle and therefore to put other people at risk.

Chief Constable Jo Shiner wants greater powers for police to take drink or drug drivers off the roads.
Chief Constable Jo Shiner Chief Constable Jo Shiner wants greater powers for police to take drink or drug drivers off the roads.

“I think we really do need to work hard on making sure that we’re strengthening the sentencing and making sure that we are properly using, where we can, sentencing that is already available to us.”

She also wants the power to seize vehicles of convicted drink and drug-drivers.

Ms Briddon said: “I would challenge anybody to say to me, how would they feel if they’d killed a person? How would they feel if they’d ruined a family’s life? Could they live with the thought of people hating them, and could they survive a lengthy period in jail?

“I do feel strongly that the length of sentence should reflect the crime.”

Their comments came as police published the national results of a Christmas crackdown on driving under the influence called Op Limit.

Nearly 50,000 breath tests (49,812) were conducted over the festive season, with 9.5% testing positive, failed or refused.

Officers carried out 6,846 drug tests with 48.5% of those testing positive. In total 6,616 arrests were made, and 1,589 people were charged.