EXCLUSIVE: Police admit percentage of drink drivers unknown

By Sarah Hunter-Argyle

Lothian and Borders Police admit that a recent drink driving campaign doesn’t tell us whether there are fewer drink drivers on the road.

 A few years ago they stopped recording negative test results during drink driving campaigns which means they don’t know if the percentage of drink drivers has gone up or down.

 Operations Inspector with the Road Policing Branch, Jillian Kerr, told Dunedin Napier News: “You can’t really tell what it is that has brought the figure down… and one of my bugbears personally is that a couple of years ago ACPOS [Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland] decided that we wouldn’t record negative breath tests, we’d only record positive. So yes we’ve got less but is that because we’ve breath tested less?”

 A recent four week campaign run over the festive period caught 93 drink drivers, which seemed to be an improvement on last year’s figures when 120 people were arrested over the same period.

 Kerr said: “It would be better to say we’ve tested more and we’ve caught less, you can’t really tell if drink driving is down if you don’t know. I would imagine we did test more because of the amount of officers we had out but we can’t say that because we don’t know.”

 Kerr said the festive and summer drink driving campaigns are mainly there to remind people that catching drink drivers is an extremely high priority and to act as a deterrent.

 But Neil Greig, from Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM), believes it is not intensive temporary campaigns that are needed to cut the number of drink driving offences but more police on patrol.

He said: “It’s the fear of getting caught or being shopped by someone that stops people from drink-driving. The maximum penalty for causing death by dangerous driving while under the influence of alcohol is 14 years in prison, but people don’t think about that.

“Last year, 460 people in the UK lost their lives as a direct result of being involved in accidents where drivers were under the influence of either drink or drugs.”

 Kerr said: “Drink driving is one of our core offences that we target and really the ultimate aim is to try and reduce casualties on the roads… and we target it 365 days a year. Really the only purpose of the campaign is to remind the public this is what we are doing.”