Rural areas attract the most drink-drivers, study finds

Staff writer
File photo dated 03/12/2014 of a Road Traffic constable holding a breathalyser as the number of motorists involved in accidents who subsequently failed a drink-drive breath test has risen for the first time in 10 years.

A recent study by the Press Association has found that more motorists are charged with drink-driving in largely rural areas. The figures, obtained through Freedom of Information requests, show that Lincolnshire prosecutes the most per head of population.

Also in the top five were North Wales, Warwickshire, Dyfed-Powys and North Yorkshire. It's been suggested that the higher numbers in rural areas could be down to a lack of public transport.

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Inspector Ewan Gell, of Lincolnshire's serious collision investigation unit, told the Press Association that the force's officers were "skilled at catching offenders," but acknowledged it showed there were serious issues surrounding the crime.

"If we are at the top of that chart I think there is a problem with drink-driving in Lincolnshire," he said. "We need to work very carefully to get the education message across to make sure we get those figures down."

"The only way you can change drink and drug-driving behaviour is by fear of getting caught, and what these figures say to me is that we are very good at catching people, so that is the message we will be putting out.

"We are very effective at targeting individuals who drink-drive."

Conservative MP John Hayes, whose South Holland and the Deepings seat is in the county, has been vocal in the past about drink-drivers. He said: ""Drink-driving is clearly a problem in Lincolnshire and it does have its consequences.

"I am pleased Lincolnshire Police take it very seriously and proud they have charged so many offenders. It's our job to now get the education message out there that it will not be tolerated."

(PA Archive/PA Images)

AA president Edmund King also said the figures could relate to poorer public transport.
He added: "It could also be down to more targeted police enforcement, but whatever the reasons, there is no excuse for drink-driving."

Police Scotland charged the most drivers – 3,797 in total. However, it covers the largest geographical area, the second largest population, and has a lower drink-drive limit than the rest of the UK – at 22 micrograms of alcohol per 100ml of breath, compared to 35 micrograms further south.

Chief Superintendent Stewart Carle, Police Scotland's road policing lead, said the trend was actually downwards.

He said: "Overall, the trend in Scotland is gradually reducing and we are ever alert to ensuring new generations of drivers know and comply with the laws.

"There is no 'safe limit' and driving while intoxicated puts the driver and other road users at greater risk of serious injury."

Jason Wakeford, director of campaigns for road safety charity Brake, said: "Drink-driving remains one of the biggest killers on our roads, causing devastation to families up and down the country.

"It is essential that police forces are provided with the resources they require to crack down on drink-drivers throughout the year."

The information comes after separate figures were published last week by the Institute of Alcohol studies. They suggested that the number of breath tests carried out on England's roads has fallen by 27% in five years, after cuts to the police service hit traffic officer numbers.

The Press Association asked all 45 UK police forces for details. Nine forces said they could not provide comparable figures, while a further five did not respond to the request.