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22 February 2024, 08:23

UK Police Chiefs Propose Immediate Roadside Disqualification for Drink and Drug Drivers

UK Police Chiefs Propose Immediate Roadside Disqualification for Drink and Drug Drivers

In a significant move aimed at enhancing road safety, UK police chiefs are advocating for new powers that would enable officers to instantly disqualify drivers found under the influence of alcohol or drugs directly at the roadside. This proposal, if implemented, would mark a radical shift from the current procedure, where drivers are formally banned only after a sentencing hearing at a magistrates' court—a process that can often take weeks.

Chief Constable Jo Shiner, the National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC) lead for roads policing, emphasized the urgency of the situation, stating that the ability to disqualify individuals for drink or drug driving on the spot would effectively remove immediate threats from the roads. "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," Shiner explained, highlighting the danger posed by those significantly over the legal limit.

Under the existing framework, suspected drink or drug drivers undergo a preliminary roadside test, followed by a more conclusive test at a police station. If the latter confirms the presence of alcohol or drugs above the legal limit, the driver is charged and scheduled for a court hearing. However, until their court date, charged individuals can legally continue driving, raising concerns about public safety.

The NPCC is currently exploring the feasibility of roadside disqualification, including the types of tests that could support such immediate actions and the necessary legal amendments to facilitate this change.

Furthermore, the police chiefs are advocating for harsher penalties for those who cause death or serious injury while driving under the influence. They suggest that, in some cases, murder charges could be appropriate, reflecting the severity of the decision to drive while impaired. "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," Shiner remarked.

This push for stricter sentencing aims to underscore the grave responsibility drivers have to ensure their actions do not endanger lives. The NPCC's proposals are part of a broader effort to strengthen road safety measures and ensure that those who flout the law face immediate and significant consequences. As discussions continue, these proposed changes signal a potentially transformative approach to tackling drink and drug driving in the UK.

Notes to the editor

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