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Drunk behind the wheel

Published 20/01/2008

Why do so many drink drivers go on to re-offend? According to government statistics, around one in five of all motorists convicted for drink driving offences in the UK each year are repeat offenders. Around 12 per cent will notch up a second offence within ten years.

It's no use telling them that, in 2006, over 14,350 casualties on Britain's roads (or 6 percent of the total) each year were involved in accidents where someone driving was driving over the legal limit for alcohol. Or that 540 deaths resulted - accounting for almost one in five of all road deaths.

The truth is that habitual drink-drivers don't feel that the rules apply to them and need to get specialist alcohol help, says Sue Allchurch, director at Linwood Manor Group: "Anyone who drives when drunk shows a lack of concern for their own safety and that of others, and a disregard for the consequences of their behaviour, which probably indicates a wider problem in their relationship with alcohol."

In fact, for someone battling alcohol abuse problems, she adds, the shame and stigma that results from a drink-driving conviction may make the dependence worse, by leading to further drinking.

In recognition of this, there are a number of government-sponsored programmes of rehabilitation for drink-drivers identified as ‘high-risk offenders', intended to manage convicted drink-drivers who have a drinking problem. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) supports the use of rehabilitation, pointing out that, for those suffering from alcohol dependence, enforcement and sentences may not be enough.

 

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