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Catch up with the latest press releases from LV=

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Stiff-drink drivers get soft sentence

Press release: 27/10/2011

  • Three in every 100 drink drivers are not disqualified from driving
  • Nearly one in 30 convicted drink drivers re-offend within a year
  • One in four Brits say they know someone who drinks over the limit and still gets behind the wheel
  • The West Midlands is the drink drive capital where 36% of people know someone who drives when over the limit

Hundreds of drivers are still legally driving on UK roads despite being convicted of drink driving, according to new research from LV= car insurance.

A Freedom of Information request by LV= shows that 55,539 people were convicted of drink driving in 2010 and yet 1480 of these - or three in every hundred - were not disqualified from driving. A similar number (2.6%) were cautioned or convicted of more than one drink driving offence within the same year, suggesting that those who are not banned will go on to offend again.

Anyone who is caught driving a vehicle under the influence of alcohol will be arrested and will have to attend court where they will usually receive a twelve month driving ban [1]. Local magistrates can use their discretion to reduce the ban and in exceptional circumstances can waive the ban completely.

Yet there are huge regional variations when it comes to sentencing in The City of London and Suffolk are the most lenient districts, allowing almost one in twenty (4.7%) drink drivers to escape disqualification. By contrast, Cumbria and Warwickshire have the strictest courts allowing just one in a hundred (1.3%) drink drivers to continue driving after conviction.

Despite high profile campaigns to warn drivers about the dangers of getting behind the wheel after drinking, consumer research confirms that it is still a widespread problem. Two thirds (65%) of people say they know someone who drives after consuming alcohol, with almost a quarter (24%) saying they know people who drive even after drinking enough alcohol to take them over the legal limit.

Drink driving appears to be most rife in the West Midlands, where over a third (36%) say they know people who drive after drinking enough to take them over the legal limit. By contrast, just 22% of those in the North West say they know drink drives where they take a harsher line on sentencing and only 2.6% of those convicted do not get a driving ban.

Selwyn Fernandes, Managing Director of LV= car insurance, said: "Driving while under the influence of alcohol is a serious offence and leads to automatic disqualification in the majority of cases. Few people realise how little it takes to compromise their driving ability and underestimate how much alcohol affects them. As we approach the Christmas party season, it is imperative that drivers know their legal limit and stick to it."


Top ten most 'lenient' districts:

Ranking

District

Percentage of convicted drink drivers
who were not disqualified

1

City of London

4.7%

1

Suffolk

4.7%

3

Gloucestershire

4.5%

4

Staffordshire

3.9%

4

Merseyside

3.9%

6

Northamptonshire

3.8%

7

Hertfordshire

3.6%

7

Metropolitan Police

3.6%

9

West Midlands

3.5%

10

Wiltshire

3.4%

10

Norfolk

3.4%


Top ten most 'strict' districts:

Ranking

District

Percentage of convicted drink drivers
who were not disqualified

1

Cumbria

1.3%

1

Warwickshire

1.3%

3

Bedfordshire

1.6%

4

Kent

1.7%

5

North Wales

1.8%

5

North Yorkshire

1.8%

7

Devon and Cornwall

1.9%

7

Durham

1.9%

7

Humberside

1.9%

10

Cheshire

2.0%

10

Dorset

2.0%

10

Surrey

2.0%

10

Sussex

2.0%

10

Gwent

2.0%

The Ministry of Justice responded to a FOI request from LV= car insurance in September 2011.

Opinium surveyed 2033 adults online between 10 and 11 March 2011.



About LV=

LV= employs 5000 people and serves over four million customers with a range of financial products. We are the UK's largest friendly society and a leading financial mutual.

When we started in 1843 our goal was to give financial security to more than just a privileged few and for many decades we were most commonly associated with providing a method of saving to people of modest means. Today we follow a similar purpose, helping people to protect and provide for the things they love, although on a much larger scale and through a wide range of financial services including insurance, investment and retirement products.

We offer our services direct to consumers, as well as through IFAs and brokers, and through strategic partnerships with organisations such as ASDA, Nationwide Building Society and a range of trades unions.

LVFS is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority, register number 110035. LVFS is a member of the ABI, the AFM and ILAG. Registered address: County Gates, Bournemouth BH1 2NF. www.LV.com.


[1] Current sentencing guidelines can be viewed at:
https://www.gov.uk/drink-drive-limit