Drink-Drive Arrests Hit 14-Year Low

 

The number of drivers caught in Edinburgh under the influence of drink or drugs has fallen to the lowest level for more than a decade. The 552 convicted for testing positive for alcohol or illegal substances in the Capital is significantly lower than any year since 1996.

Heightened awareness thanks to a range of hard-hitting initiatives has been credited with driving the improvement, though campaigners said ten prosecutions a week was still a worrying figure.

The Conservative's transport spokesman for Scotland Jackson Carlaw MSP, who was given the figures through the Scottish Parliament, said: "A reduction of a third over a decade is to be encouraged, but I still find it surprising how many people still do this."

Numerous initiatives have taken place over the years in a bid to both discourage people from drink-driving, and to catch those who do. Lothian and Borders Police have seized seven vehicles from drink-drivers who have been caught more than once in five years as part of a new initiative. Anyone involved in a traffic collision is automatically breathalysed. Police are also now targeting roads which have a history of drink-drivers in a bid to catch more offenders.

High profile campaigns at Christmas and now the height of summer have made an impact on the figures. In the late 1990s more than 800 drink or drug drivers were caught every year. Carole Whittingham, a spokeswoman for the Campaign Against Drink Driving, said: "The figure produced may well be coming down, but it is still far too many.

"There is a perception among the public that drink-drivers aren't real criminals, and that they want to see more 'bobbies on the beat' and unfortunately that pressure means fewer police are in cars on patrol.

"Until the limitations are clear people will always have the ignorance excuse, so we should be saying either drink and don't drive, or drive and don't drink anything."

In West Lothian there were 275 convictions for drink or drug driving last year, while the figure was 133 for East Lothian and 125 for Midlothian. A spokeswoman for Lothian and Borders Police said: "Our ongoing, targeted campaigns supplement robust enforcement that is a day-to-day activity for our road policing officers.