Police want instant roadside bans for drug and drink drivers caught over the limit

UK

Police chiefs are calling for new powers to allow officers to instantly disqualify drink or drug-drivers at the side of the road.

They say the new powers would allow police to take drivers who pose a risk to others off the road “immediately”.

Currently, drivers charged with drug or drink-driving offences are banned following a sentencing hearing at a magistrates’ court.

But these hearings can take weeks to get to the court, and, until then, drivers are allowed to get back behind the wheel.

Chief Constable Jo Shiner, the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) lead for roads policing, said: “The ability for us to be able to disqualify people either for drink or drug-driving by the roadside would mean that we can immediately take that risk off the road.

“And those people can’t be behind the wheel, particularly if they’ve blown well over the legal limit.”

Image:
Chief Constable Jo Shiner, the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) lead for roads policing. Pic: PA

Under the current system, drivers are checked using a road-side test, which, if positive, is followed by a confirmatory test at a police station.

If that second test comes back positive, they are charged and sent to court.

Force chiefs are currently in early discussions looking at the type of tests that could be used to allow officers to ban people at the roadside.

They are also looking at the legal changes needed to make the move possible.

As well as roadside bans, the NPCC also want tougher punishments for drivers who kill while under the influence, including potential murder charges.

Ms Shiner said: “We should have greater sentencing and far greater sentences, particularly for those people who do kill or seriously injure people on the roads.

“I actually do believe that if someone makes that decision to get behind the wheel, under the influence of drink or drugs, that is a conscious decision they have made to get into a vehicle and therefore to put other people at risk.

“I think we really do need to work hard on making sure that we’re strengthening the sentencing and making sure that we are properly using, where we can, sentencing that is already available to us.”

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The idea of instant disqualification is supported by Ceinwen Briddon, who campaigned for tougher sentences for fatal drivers after her 21-year-old daughter Miriam was killed in a head-on collision with a drunk driver.

Gareth Entwhistle, then 34, was jailed after admitting causing death by undue care while over the prescribed drink-drive limit in 2015.

He served half of a five-year jail term and was banned from driving for five years.

Ms Briddon’s campaigning spurred on a change in the law where those found guilty of causing death by dangerous driving can face a life sentence.

Ms Briddon said: “I would challenge anybody to say to me, how would they feel if they’d killed a person? How would they feel if they’d ruined a family’s life? Could they live with the thought of people hating them, and could they survive a lengthy period in jail?

“I do feel strongly that the length of sentence should reflect the crime.”

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