Belfast Telegraph

Nearly 10,000 banned from Northern Ireland roads for driving under influence

Almost 10,000 people in Northern Ireland were disqualified from driving after being convicted of drink or drug driving offences in the five years up to 2017.

The figures, obtained by the BBC under Freedom of Information, show that on average 2,000 people a year were banned.

PSNI Chief Inspector Diane Pennington, speaking on the Nolan Show on Radio Ulster, said despite the figures she thought the message not to drink and drive was getting through.

"I think we are seeing some small indications that the message is getting through," she said.

"The figures that we have got today are obviously disappointing.

"There are some people out there who are either taking a chance or not listening, or maybe even more frightening don't care and are just drinking and driving and taking drugs while they drive. They are putting themselves and other people at risk."

Ms Pennington said powers granted under the authorised vehicle check point system has led to a decrease in the amount of people caught drink driving over the Christmas period.

Under the system, the police have powers to identify a road and a time where they think drink drivers might be driving and pull over every single vehicle on that road and ask everyone to provide breath tests.

She said: "To me that is saying we are carrying out widespread testing, it was around 13,000 people last Christmas and fewer people were arrested. This is an indication people are listening, they are being more careful."

Aileen Tester's brother Robert Bradley was killed by a drunk driver while he was a student in Nottingham on December 16, 2000.

Robert, who was from Londonderry, was just 20 when he was killed.

Fellow student Alexandra Veeder (21) was also killed in the same incident.

Speaking on Nolan, Ms Tester said she wanted to see life bans for any drink drivers who caused serious injury or worse.

Asked what she thought of the figures, she said: "It is good in one sense that people are being caught and that this is being taken very seriously by the courts and that people are being banned from driving.

"Robert was knocked down and killed by a driver on December 16 in the run up to Christmas by somebody who hadn't slept properly for three days, who had excess alcohol in his blood to the stage of it being three-and-a-half times the legal limit.

"He killed my brother Robert and his friend Alexandra Veeder when he came into a street when there was over 200 students walking home.

"Robert died a horrific death.

"Drink driving results in horrific deaths.  To see the type of figures that are there, although it is good to see these bans coming in, this is the potential for 10,000 or more people to have been killed."

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