Alarming new figures, released by in-car dashboard mounted camera supplier NextBase, have revealed that approximately 1,000 children under the age of 18 have been stopped for driving while under the influence of alcohol since 2008, with approximately one quarter of the offenders aged 16 or under. Not only are these drivers guilty of driving while over the legal alcohol limit, but they are, in a lot of cases, driving without insurance and driving without a licence, while also being guilty of drinking under the legal age.
Drink driving is considered one of the most serious driving offences. Even a small amount of alcohol can impair the driver’s ability to see hazards, and it can have a detrimental effect on reaction speed, meaning that it will take longer for the affected driver to be able to slow down, avoid accidents or stop.
There has been serious discussion about lowering the alcohol limit for drivers, and these plans are set to go ahead in Scotland. Many European countries already have lower limits than those that are currently in place in the UK, and the government has toyed with the idea of halving the existing limit. However, this is unlikely to prove effective in the fight against those that are not even old enough to hold a licence yet.
NextBase submitted a freedom of information act request, and received responses from 43 police forces. In all, there was an average of 1,000 children aged under 18 stopped for driving while over the limit, per year, since 2008. Approximately one quarter of these were actually aged under 16. The worst offending area was found to be Manchester with Scotland providing a disproportionately high number of offenders for its population size.
The worst incident is that of an 11 year old child that was stopped for driving under the influence in the Thames Valley area in 2011. 12 year olds have also been stopped on a number of occasions in the same period. A ban and penalty points will have little real effect on children of this age, because the points would officially be removed before they even reach the legal driving age.