DRUNK DRIVERDrink driving is a scourge. It is also, after many years, increasingly seen as an anti social act. As magistrates my colleagues and I have heard all the excuses available to man [and woman] as to why the situation arose. Occasionally an argument against mandatory disqualification; special reasons, will be presented by an offender. Nevertheless in the latest figures apparently available* {2006} 3,412 offenders were sentenced to immediate custody at magistrates` courts for all offences concerning drink and motor vehicles. In the same year 310 offenders were similarly sent to young offender institutions.

Low level blood alcohol levels in excess of the legal limit rarely attract custody for first time offenders. Indeed even those convicted a second time are unlikely to be jailed. But there is a category of drink drivers who are on a special list; they are termed High Risk Offenders and are defined as having had:-

one disqualification for driving, or being in charge of a vehicle, when the level of alcohol in the body is equal to, or more than, 200 milligrams in 100 millilitres of blood; or 87.5 micrograms in 100 millilitres of breath; or 267.5 milligrams in 100 millilitres of urine

two disqualifications within the space of 10 years for exceeding the legal limit or being unfit to drive because of drink

one disqualification for refusing or failing to supply a breath, blood or urine sample for testing

Those in the HRO category have to show a DVLA medical advisor they are fit to drive before they get their driving licence back. That entails having a medical examination with one of DVLA’s appointed doctors in their area.

It was a surprise to discover through Freedom of Information Act that for the years 2009 – 2011 30,209, 29,815 and 26,661 offenders respectively were placed in the HRO category. In 2010 around 54,000 drivers were disqualified for drink driving. A cursory inspection of the figures indicates therefore that more than 50% were considered HROs. Perhaps somebody might offer his/her conclusions?

*Offences relating to motor vehicles England and Wales 2006 Supplementary tables
Ransford Fiti, Dave Perry, Walter Giraud and Margaret Ayres
Office for Criminal Justice Reform