Berkshire Drink Driving Crack Down
As police in Berkshire launch their summer crack down on drink driving, Heart's caught up with a Newbury mum whose teenage daughter crashed her car and died after drinking.
Debbie Hepplewhite's daughter Fiona was 19 years-old when she drove over the limit.
We caught up with Debbie to find out what happened:
"Just over four years ago my daughter was involved in a car accident. She was the only person in that accident. She was probably travelling too fast. We don't know exactly what caused the crash, but we can speculate it was caused by her being over the limit. She wasn't wearing her seatbelt either. She was going round a bend and hit a tree."
"It was totally devastating. As a mother it's indescribable in the sense that you have to experience it to be in the shoes and fully understand it."
Having been personally affected by the impact of drink driving, Debbie has very strong views on how British culture needs to change in order to change people's attitudes towards alcohol.
"Socially, we're not really saying upfront that drinking is drug taking. Drinking is a drug. We've made it acceptable.
"I think it's ridiculous that we have a law that allows drinking, and the person who has to assess whether they've had too much to drink in terms of driving is the person doing the drinking. So at what point is a mellow, or on-their-way-to-being-drunk person capable of self assessing that they're ok to drive?"
Police Summer Campaign
Debbie is pleased to see Thames Valley Police are once again doing their annual crack down on drink and drug driving across Berkshire.
The month-long campaign is aimed at reducing the number of people killed and injured on our roads by people who drink and drive.
The campaign will be aimed at all age groups across, focusing on young male drivers aged 17-29, who are consistently over-represented in drink drive casualty figures.
According to national research and analysis, young men in this age bracket ‘opt out’ of the current drink drive message because for them it means 'drunk' - they believe that having one to two pints is perfectly acceptable.
In addition, many people are not aware of the continuing effects of alcohol the morning after. In many cases, alcohol is still present in the body and will be picked up during the breath test. The overall aim of the campaign is to convince drivers that a drink-drive conviction has the potential to ruin their life by highlighting a mixture of the legal and personal consequences.
What's happening on the roads?
Thames Valley Police will be conducting dedicated but random drink and drug drive checks at all times of the day and night during the month of June. Drivers will be asked to provide a specimen of breath in accordance with the Road Traffic Act 1988. Where there is no suspicion of alcohol, no moving traffic offences or involvement in a road collision, drivers will be offered the opportunity to participate in the campaign and provide a sample on a voluntary basis. We will be explaining the reasons for these checks to drivers and ask for the motoring public’s support.
Why is it so important?
During last year’s Summer Campaign 2,721 drivers were breathalysed and 190 drivers provided positive tests.
Supt Rob Povey, Head of Roads Policing for Thames Valley Police, said:
“Drink driving is now much more socially unacceptable, but there are still some individuals who continue to ignore the warnings. It is a very serious offence and people need to understand the gravity of their actions if they drink and drive. We are particularly focussing on the effect of driving the day after ‘a night out’.
“For those who have been out to enjoy a summer evening with friends, they must also think about whether the alcohol is clear from their system the day after. If they are not sure, then it is not worth taking the chance.”
All drivers who provide a positive breath test, refuse to provide or fail to provide, face losing their licence for at least 12 months. They could go to prison for six months or pay a fine of up to £5,000.