Belfast Telegraph

Editor's Viewpoint: Sobering figures on drink-drive offenders

The PSNI has warned there will be the utmost vigilance concerning drink and drugs driving offences over the Christmas and New Year period
The PSNI has warned there will be the utmost vigilance concerning drink and drugs driving offences over the Christmas and New Year period

Editor's Viewpoint

The PSNI has warned there will be the utmost vigilance concerning drink and drugs driving offences over the Christmas and New Year period.

It is disturbing that eight people are caught doing this on our roads every day.

It gives deep cause for reflection to be told that 9,147 people have been detected over the limit in the past three years.

Figures obtained by the Belfast Telegraph reveal that one motorist was caught while five times over the legal drinking limit. The youngest person detected was only 14 and the eldest was 87.

About 80% of those detected were men and six police officers and six members of police staff were caught.

The figures are scandalous. Everyone knows of the potentially legal consequences of driving over the limit.

Drink and drugs impair judgment and the results can be devastating. People simply ought to know better.

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The consequences are heartbreaking for families like that of Queen's student Enda Dolan, knocked down by drunk driver David Stewart who was three-and-a-half times over the limit.

He was originally sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison, with the same amount of time on licence. However, on appeal this was increased by an extra year in prison and the same on licence.

Enda's father Peter said he found this "hard to take" and he has campaigned for tougher sentences. He believes that the current high figures for such offences are due to far too lenient sentences from the courts.

The usual sentence is a year's driving ban, but those who voluntarily attend an "awareness" course can have the ban reduced.

One hopes they learn their lesson, however long the ban they have to endure.

A lengthy ban can have series consequences for those who drive for a living, and there is also the stigma of being found guilty of such anti-social behaviour.

However for those who have lost loved ones, the pain of the empty chair during Christmas time will be devastating once again.

In that sense they are serving a life sentence, and they, too, will be victims for the rest of their lives.

To drive with drugs or drink is an act of total stupidity and recklessness. Quite literally it is time for everyone to sober up to the potentially tragic consequences of recklessness and anti-social behaviour, not only at Christmas but all year round.

Belfast Telegraph

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