No Excuse for driving home from the Christmas party

AS we head into the Christmas period, thousands of people will be heading out to enjoy themselves in the county’s pubs, bars and restaurants.

And while the vast majority will act responsibly, sadly there is still a tiny minority who still think it’s OK to drink and drive.

Dorset Police launched their annual Drink/Drug Drive Christmas campaign at the start of this month and I wholeheartedly support the message.

Quite simply - getting behind the wheel while impaired by drink or drugs ruins lives and there is ‘No Excuse’ for it.

I’m not the first person involved in policing to say this, and I wish we didn’t have to keep saying it every year, but unbelievably there are still people out there whose behaviour means this message needs to be repeated.

The parts of your brain that make you able to drive simply stop working properly when you’re under the influence of even small amounts of drugs or alcohol.

Reaction times are slower, spatial awareness is reduced – the chances you will crash and seriously injure yourself or someone else are massively increased.

If you’re caught – and there’s a good chance you will be – you could face getting banned from driving for at least a year. Losing your licence means you could lose your job, and perhaps your house, family and friends. In addition, you could also get an unlimited fine and a prison sentence.

But far worse than this – you could be responsible for the loss of someone’s life.

If you think that’s just a hysterical comment designed to shock you, remember that four people died on Dorset’s roads last year because of a drink driver. Four people who won’t be sitting down with their loved ones this year simply because somebody was stupid enough to think they were capable of driving.

Many of you will know that I have called for the drink drive limit in England and Wales to be lowered.

At the moment, the limit stands at 35 microgrammes of alcohol for every 100 millilitres of blood in the body – the most generous threshold anywhere in Europe.

And although, disappointingly, the government has no plans to review the current limit, my concern still stands.

The current law creates confusion. Drivers are left to guess how much alcohol is acceptable and whether that extra half pint, that extra small glass of wine, will push them over the limit. Nobody can conclusively say how much is too much as alcohol effects people differently.

The only way to be sure you’ll be safe is to leave your car at home if you’re planning to have a drink.

Thankfully, ideas such as designated driver schemes and two for one soft drinks promotions in bars, are becoming more and more common. Many people won’t allow their friends to pick up their car keys if they’ve had a drink and I would encourage everyone to consider their ‘responsible driving’ options when they are planning their nights out.

Please, stay safe on our roads this Christmas – don’t drink and drive, don’t take drugs and drive. Get a cab home, get a lift home, stay at a friend’s, but whatever you do, please don’t ‘take a chance’ and drive.

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