Belfast Telegraph

Editor's Viewpoint: Deadly toll of drivers who run risk of drink

Everyone should know that drinking impairs the ability to drive and it only takes one momentary mistake to have lethal results - either killing someone else or killing oneself
Everyone should know that drinking impairs the ability to drive and it only takes one momentary mistake to have lethal results - either killing someone else or killing oneself

Editor's Viewpoint

It has become as much part of the festive season as the arrival of Santa in shopping centres or Black Friday and there is no doubt that the PSNI's annual high profile campaign against drink driving is a timely one.

But not everyone is listening and 322 drivers failed to heed the warnings last year. As a percentage of the 11,500 given roadside breathalyser tests that is a fairly low number, but one wonders why anyone would take the chance to drink and drive.

The first and most immediate consequence of being caught is the certainty of losing one's licence, which could have very serious consequences for anyone who needs to drive either to get to work or as part of their job. Those could be the most expensive drinks the drivers ever had.

And it seems that many also forget that they can still be over the limit the next morning, if out late the night before having a drink. Some 10% of those detected last year were in the morning after a session.

However, there are even more potentially dangerous consequences. Everyone should know that drinking impairs the ability to drive and it only takes one momentary mistake to have lethal results - either killing someone else or killing oneself.

As police pointed out, there are 47 families here this year mourning the loss of someone due to a motor vehicle accident. Their loss will leave a gaping void in the lives of their loved ones. There can be no sympathy for anyone who causes death or serious injury because they had taken drink and then driven.

The father of a student who was killed by a driver high on drugs and drink, while walking to his halls of residence near Queen's University Belfast, is urging the public to call for tougher sentences for those convicted of such offences.

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The driver who killed young Enda Dolan was initially jailed for three-and-a-half years with another three-and-a-half to be spent on licence. On appeal, both parts of the sentence were increased by a year. The maximum sentence for killing someone by dangerous driving is 14 years, but no-one has ever received that tariff.

For those families bereaved by drunken drivers, no sentence can ever equate to their loss. They have to endure a life sentence without someone they loved. It is understandable that they would like to see tougher sentences handed down and the public are being given a chance to make their views known in a consultation exercise currently under way.

They should do so.

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