Figures obtained through Freedom of Information requests from 31 police forces have shown that more drivers are charged with drink-driving offences in rural areas than anywhere else, and Transport Minister John Hayes has suggested that this epidemic may be “compounded” by a lack of public transport.
The statistics, which look at the number of drivers arrested as a percentage of the population, put Lincolnshire at the top of the list, with 1,035 drivers charged in twelve months between May 2016 and May 2017. Next came North Wales with 783, followed by Warwickshire, Dyfed-Powys, and North Yorkshire.
Mr Hayes, MP for South Holland and Deepings in Lincolnshire said: “We have a dispersed population in Lincolnshire and sparsity public transport, many people are dependent on a car, which may compound the issue.
“Drink-driving is clearly a problem in Lincolnshire and it does have its consequences.”
Inspector Ewan Gell of the county’s serious collision investigation unit said: “If we are at the top of that chart I think there is a problem with drink-driving in Lincolnshire and we need to work very carefully to get the education message across to make sure we get those figures down.
“The only way you can change drink and drug-driving behaviour is by fear of getting caught and what these figures say to me is that we are good at catching people, so that is the message we will be putting out, we are very effective at targeting individuals who drink-drive.”
AA President Edmund King echoed the sentiment that a lack of public transport may be exacerbating the problem, adding: “It could also be down to more targeted police enforcement, but whatever the reasons, there is no excuse for drink-driving.”
Scotland has the highest overall total with 3,797 drivers, but the legal limit is lower at 22mcg alcohol per 100ml breath. In England and Wales, the limit is 35mcg per 100ml.
Chief Superintendent Stewart Carle, lead for Scotlands road policing, underlined that there was “no safe limit” for drinking and driving, saying “driving while intoxicated puts the driver and other road users at great risk of serious injury.”
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