Drink-Driving Figures Reveal Widespread Youth Offending

Child Of 11 Among Youths Drunk Behind Wheel

03.10.2014

Newly released information has revealed that around 1,000 youngsters aged under 18 have been caught drink-driving annually since 2008.

Police records from 43 forces were divulged after a freedom of information request by in-car camera provider Nextbase.

All of the forces had made arrests for youth drink-driving during this period, with the highest tally being 718 in Scotland, where there is just one police force. Among the English areas, Greater Manchester had the most with 409 offences.

Other hotspots included Hampshire with 276, Devon and Cornwall with 241 and Sussex with 160.

The youngest offender was just 11, while a number of 12-year-olds were apprehended in Scotland in 2012 and Manchester in 2008.

Overall, the figures indicated a fall in such offences, but some forces had recorded a rise between 2012 and 2013.

The combination of unqualified driving and the ingestion of alcohol by those too young to drink could exacerbate the already great dangers of drink-driving.

Commenting on the figures, a Department for Transport spokesman said: "Under-age driving is illegal and no person under the age of 17 should be driving a car.

"We have tough laws in place to tackle those caught driving without a licence.

"Drink-driving is a menace that costs lives, and the government is strengthening the law to help police crack down on this problem."

The government has proposed a number of tougher sentences in recent months, not least for drivers who kill through careless or drunken driving.

Youth offending has led to some problems arising with the punishments that have been handed out, with Auto Express using a freedom of information request in 2012 to establish that over 5,000 youngsters had received driving bans in court since 2009, despite not being legally allowed to drive anyway. Of these, five were aged 11 at the time of the offence and 41 were aged 12.

This anomaly has meant that many offenders will have effectively served their sentence by the time they reach the age of 17, meaning they can immediately take lessons and learn to drive legally.

Expert Opinion
Just a small amount of alcohol can impair motorists’ judgement and can threaten the safety of the driver and other road users. Accidents involving drink-driving motorists can have devastating consequences and it is very troubling to see the number of young people getting behind the wheel after drinking.

“In our work we have been involved in many road traffic cases, resulting in death or life changing injuries for those involved, where alcohol played a significant part in the collision. It is vital more is done to raise awareness of the dangers of drink-driving among young people and ensure they don’t get behind the wheel after consuming alcohol.”
Neil Whiteley, Partner