Tag Archives: drink driving

Drink Driving and the Festive Season

Drink Driving and the Festive Season

It’s December again.  The season of good cheer for most and the opportunity to get together with friends and family and have a good time.

Sadly, it’s also the time of year when the Government runs a fresh and usually extremely brutal new anti-drink drive TV campaign and it tends to be a time of year when people get caught for drink driving – with many bad consequences for themselves, and possibly for others.

However, it’s not all bad news.  An examination of the statistics for the most recent year available [2016] shows us that there are fewer drink drivers than ten years ago.

In 2016, 3,424 people failed a breathalyser test following an accident, a 42% decrease from 5,873 in 2006. The decrease in failed test results correlates with fewer drink-driving related accidents over the years.

Drink-driving accidents have been recorded from 1979 and the number of alcohol-related accidents has also dropped by 71%.

However, drink-drivers are more prevalent on some roads than others.  The majority of drink-driving offenders have been caught on rural roads, with 35% testing over the limit.  Newnham & Jordan cover road traffic clients charged with drink driving (as well as speeding and other offences such as careless driving) both in urban and rural areas, particularly concentrating on Dorset and Hampshire, but extending into Wiltshire and Somerset.  It’s a sad fact that rural roads are generally more dangerous than urban roads and motorways which are normally better lit, better surfaced, wider and (at this chilly time of the year) much better gritted.

Another key statistic is the rise in the number of older drivers finding themselves convicted of drink driving.  From a total of 1,295 over 65s convicted of drink driving in 2005 this jumped to 1,435 in 2015.  An AA spokesperson opined that older drivers may have got away with it in the past and believe they can still drive while “half cut”.

At the end of the day there is no safe level of alcohol in one’s system and all drivers take a significant risk if they choose to drive after having a drink.

Have you been involved in a road traffic accident? Call Michael McGhie on 01202 877 400 for a practical, sensible solution!

Drink Driving at Christmas Time

It’s almost Christmas again.  And police forces up and down the country are already watching out vigilantly for motorists suspected of being over the legal limit.  The annual Government anti-drink driving campaign has been launched warning of the consequences of a second drink.

Drink Driving

And in North Yorkshire a story has emerged of a drunken driver who hit a metal barrier in Tadcaster and fled the scene.  Rather than be found wandering the streets or behind a locked door at home he was instead discovered by police officers in a shed hidden behind bales of hay and the figure of baby Jesus amongst a Nativity scene.  His subsequent arrest prompted the police to post the news on Twitter; “Driver runs from RTC in Tadcaster and tries to hide in nativity display.  Located and arrested”.

The publicity prompted by the police led to humorous comments from other social media users with “Obviously not one of the wise men” and “God arrest ye merry gentlemen” being typical.  Even a police officer got in on the act and posted this message “Gold star to my North Yorkshire Police colleagues as one ‘myrrh’ drink driver with no ‘(frankin)sense’ is taken off the road”.

The consequences of even one drink before driving are well known to just about everybody and, as a lawyer who does his best to pick up the pieces for clients who find themselves in the often nightmare position of facing a drink driving conviction, I urge anyone and everyone to be extremely cautious.  It is far better to not drink and drive or to drink and plan and keep to alternative non-driving arrangements so as to avoid the risk of that barman or random member of the public calling the police to say you’ve driven off while obviously under the influence.

Of course if the worst does happen and you are experiencing the shock from an arrest for drink (or indeed drug) driving it is strongly advised you seek legal advice as soon as possible.  It can make a significant difference and hearing from someone who understands the court process step by step is often very reassuring.

While Newnham & Jordan will be closed for Christmas in common with almost all law firms there is always the means to reach a lawyer at any time.  Just ring the out of hours number 0845 680 7871 or Email office@newnham-jordan.co.uk and you will receive a call back within no time at all.  Support is never more than a phone call away.

Drink Driving at Christmas Time
The First Drink Driving Commercial – 50 years on…

The First Drink Driving Commercial – 50 years on…

Don't Drink & Drive
Leave the car keys at home….
It’s that time of year again with the media covering the police drink driving campaigns up and down the country.

In 1964 the drink driving campaign began with an almost light-hearted commercial called Office Party and included what might be regarded now as a somewhat sexist tag line; “Don’t ask a man to drink and drive”.  However there was still no law to govern the precise levels of alcohol permitted when driving.

It was not until 1967 that the permitted alcohol level was enshrined in law with the passing of the Road Safety Act which came into force in October that year and established the 80 mg of alcohol in 100 ml of blood limit.  Older readers will recall the role of Barbara Castle, the then Minister of Transport, in the passing of the ground-breaking legislation.  The roadside breathalyser bag was introduced and police and drivers alike would wait to see if the crystals changed colour when the bag was inflated.

Of course there were methods of assessing alcohol levels well before the breathalyser; for example in 1927 there as a case which I found reported in 1932 in the American Journal of Police Science where in Marlborough Police Court a Dr Gorsky had instructed a suspect to inflate a football bladder.  From 2 litres of breath examined the doctor found 1.5 litres of ethanol and concluded the suspect was “50 per cent drunk”.  Times were very different in the 1920s, of course, and when it comes to drink driving legislation and practice events have moved on a very long way indeed.

To avoid overloading the reader with technical information I do not propose to discuss here the many advances in breath testing that have occurred in the years since Barbara Castle’s determination to legislate British drink driving habits in the teeth of considerable opposition at the time.  The statistics in terms of the reduction in road fatalities where drink has been responsible have fallen pretty steadily throughout the intervening decades and in 2012 there were 230 drink driving fatalities; a seventh of the number in 1967.

And now the law has changed in Scotland bringing the permissible limit down to 50 mg of alcohol in 100 ml of blood which really means that drivers north of the border run a considerable risk of exceeding the limit with just one drink.

The Government’s crackdown on drink driving will inevitably – and properly – continue and the messages will be hard-hitting compared to the tentative early effort back in 1964.

If you have the extreme misfortune of getting stopped for driving with excess alcohol be sure to cooperate with the police at every step of the procedure from the roadside to the police station and the testing process there.

By all means seek legal advice whilst at the police station but be aware that exercising your rights cannot delay the alcohol testing procedures; not one bit.

If you are charged with an alcohol-related driving offence you need to assess your predicament and prospects urgently; you may not have long before your court appearance and preparation is everything.   Access to legal advice at this stage is highly advisable and can make the difference between retention of your driving licence or the early restoration of it and, at the other extreme, the loss of your right to drive for potentially a long time.

Michael McGhie at Newnham & Jordan Solicitors is an expert Road Traffic defence lawyer.  Michael will be monitoring voicemails and contact forms over the Christmas and New Year period so if you are unlikely to be caught during the holiday period you will still be able to leave Michael a message in order that he can get back to you with any necessary legal advice for you particular situation.

This article is intended for general information purposes only and  shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice.  Newnham &  Jordan Solicitors cannot accept  responsibility for   any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in  respect of this   article or any external articles it may refer or link to.

Senior Citizens and Still Driving…!

Senior CoupleIt’s often commented how we are all living – and staying healthy – much longer than we used to and this is great news.  However with the welcome improvements in life expectancy which we’re noticing more and more it’s worth spending a few moments considering the significance to driving of advancing age, and the potential consequences of failing to declare to DVLA a medical condition.

The trouble is that we don’t all know ourselves when we might have a relevant medical condition and thus need to inform DVLA; deterioration in driving abilities can be very gradual and thus not always easy to spot.  It may not be a simple judgment call.  However a failure to declare a condition can result in a potential fine of £1,000, loss of licence and independence, and it goes without saying a serious road traffic accident arising from the consequences of impaired ability can have any number of potential ramifications.

There is no maximum age at which you must stop driving and there will always be some very sprightly drivers who will still be capable of driving into their late 80s and 90s.  Indeed there are nearly 200 drivers in the UK who are aged at least 100; it is an extraordinary, in many ways fantastic statistic, the like of which we have never seen until recently.

The only standard condition to comply with as you reach the age of 70 is that the driving licence becomes renewable every three years but with no obligatory test and no compulsory medical the basic obligation is to make a medical declaration as to one’s fitness to drive.   However with age comes greater responsibility and, from the point of view of road traffic law, perhaps the key responsibility is the need to monitor and be aware of your fitness to drive at all stages of your driving career, and as someone now in their late 50s myself I am as conscious of this responsibility as the next person.

A failure to disclose a relevant medical condition may also have consequences for insurance cover at a time when it is needed most (although matters of policy terms and conditions will always be subject to the specific circumstances and the insurance company’s view of a particular case).

It isn’t all bad news though.

It remains a fact that older drivers are, statistically, less risky than younger drivers.  According to the Association of British Insurers drivers over the age of 70 are half as likely to be involved in accidents as 18 to 20 year olds.  Very few drivers over the age of 70 are involved in drink drive or single vehicle accidents.

With new drivers (who are, more often than not, young drivers) the courts are obliged to follow a very strict rule whereby, by virtue of the Road Traffic (New Drivers) Act 1995, the accumulation of 6 points within the first two years of motoring post acquisition of a full licence will mean the automatic revocation of a licence and the obligation to re-take the driving test in order to restore the previous entitlements.  However with much older drivers potentially at liberty to drive even where their powers of concentration may be diminishing the possibility may be out there that legislators will be unable to resist the temptation to rebalance this system of checks and balances in the not too distant future.

This article is intended for general information purposes only and  shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice.  Newnham &   Jordan Solicitors cannot accept  responsibility for   any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in  respect of this   article or any external articles it may refer or link to.

Michael McGhie has practised Road Traffic law for many years and regularly follows new developments in this legal area to ensure he can advise clients as effectively as possible.


Senior Citizens and Still Driving…!
Telematics Motor Insurance and the Black Box recorder

Telematics Motor Insurance and the Black Box recorder

Telematics and Car Insurance

Telematics Telematics Telematics

Originally the preserve of (young and therefore often riskier) drivers before very long we can all look forward to embracing “telematics” when we are shopping for car insurance.

New drivers will be familiar with insurance companies that offer the potential of lower premiums in exchange for having a black box (perhaps a more understandable name than telematics) fitted to their vehicle which monitors their driving and sends back data to the company silently and unobtrusively. With the technology which supports insurers’ black boxes shortly to become a standard fitment in all new cars it will be but a short step to take for insurers to roll out telematics to all of their customers meaning it won’t be long before policy holders who shun the adoption of this 21st century technology will be in a minority – and that will likely mean higher premiums for the privilege of opting out. Of course this isn’t going to happen overnight but the writing is surely on the wall.

Under EU regulations a system known as eCall designed to help the emergency services locate vehicles involved in accidents will have to be fitted in all new vehicles manufactured from October 2015. This particular EU regulation is surely a good thing which one can also foresee being used by the AA and RAC, for example, to locate you swiftly in the event of a breakdown.

Insurance companies are already expanding the adoption of Telematics and from a point in the first few years of this century when it was very novel (and quite expensive to fit) the system is gaining in popularity and adoption by motorists, aided now by a variety of mobile phone apps which, with some inevitability, are being introduced; according to the British Insurance Brokers’ Association the current telematics use of less than 1% of drivers is likely to rise to 10% within three years and to 15% within five years. One management consultancy has predicted that by 2020 something like 50% of vehicles will have some kind of electronic black box circuitry fitted.

As more and more vehicles reach Britain’s roads with the electronic circuitry ready-fitted the impetus will be increasingly on expanding the use of telematics to better assess risk. And assessing risk will be easy for the insurance companies, as it is now, with black boxes already monitoring the how, when and where of your vehicle use to determine how good or bad a driver you are; whether you only take the car for a run on a Sunday afternoon or whether you hit the road in the rush hour and whether you drive fast and brake hard or you drive consistently and brake gently, anticipating hazards in good time. Good young drivers have already seen some benefit from this technology although the savings may not have been that spectacular after allowing for the cost of installation. True value will come with year after year of use as insurance companies can see a pattern of driving behaviour for themselves, even if there are also important privacy considerations attached to this. The point is that telematics has not been pushed very much thus far but with insurance companies seeing that it does work, and with the EU regulations only serving to encourage this tracking technology, we are going to see a lot more of it soon.

While we don’t have to accept the use of telematics for our own insurance the situation will soon arise whereby it will become the norm and declining it will mean higher premiums – all a bit like insisting on paying for your gas and electric by cheque rather than monthly direct debit or paying for your water based on rateable value instead of a meter. Of course these are different commodities but increasingly the public is being directed down particular routes that save the supplying company time and money and car insurance will be no different; telematics will tell the insurance companies all they need to know about your driving habits automatically and if you are a low mileage driver, for instance, who only drives at quiet times of day, and leaves the car on the drive for extended periods, it is very likely you stand to benefit from this technology.

Newnham & Jordan can advise you on all road traffic legal matters including potential insurance offences.

 Call us now on 0845 680 7871

This article is intended for general information purposes only and  shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. Newnham &   Jordan Solicitors cannot accept  responsibility for   any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in  respect of this   article or any external articles it may refer or link to.

Motor Insurance – Utmost good faith and MyLicence

Most motorists simply renew cover with their existing insurer or shop around for a better deal.  Nowadays, in fact, it very rarely pays to stick with your current insurer and customer loyalty seems to matter little.

However it is so important to provide accurate information for a quote or you might find yourself in a very serious financial and legal position in the event of a claim.  One of the cardinal principles governing insurance is that of “utmost good faith” and this applies as much to customers as to insurance companies.

Few people enjoy the process of completing quote forms online and some of the questions seem unnecessarily onerous; exactly how many years a full licence has been held (does it really matter if is 27 or 28 years, for heaven’s sake, and what was the precise date I passed the test?) but the importance of completing the details accurately cannot be underestimated and a false answer can come back to haunt you.

Recent research conducted by Consumer Intelligence indicates that 1 in 12 drivers has admitted to giving incorrect answers to insurers and this equates to a potential 2.4 million drivers driving around on policies with incorrect information.

It does matter to state where you park the car overnight, what your likely annual mileage is, who the main driver is (take particular care with sons and daughters) and whether you use your vehicle for personal business purposes.  Similarly it matters a lot to come clean – however painful it is – about points on your licence and even, with some insurers, whether you have been on a Driver Awareness Course which hasn’t involved points at all.  Unfortunately disclosing points will increase your premium but if you were later forced to make a claim and undisclosed points were discovered this could have severe consequences which might range from a refusal to meet a claim to voiding of your insurance from inception, which in turn would leave you uninsured on the day and potentially facing prosecution for driving with no insurance.

Now what is it with MyLicence?  Well, very soon the insurance companies will have their own access to DVLA to check your licence for themselves.  This is a new scheme called, you’ve guessed it,  MyLicence, which is being tested from February 2014 with a view to full implementation soon afterwards.  Perhaps this will avoid much difficulty over the accuracy of driver records but utmost good faith will always apply and that tedious online form still needs all your attention.

At Newnham & Jordan Solicitors we are able to assist and advise you with regard to a variety of motoring offences and motoring issues.

 Call us now on 0845 680 7871

This article is intended for general information purposes only and  shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. Newnham &   Jordan Solicitors, in Wimborne Dorset, cannot accept  responsibility for   any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in  respect of this   article or any external articles it may refer or link to.



Motor Insurance – Utmost good faith and MyLicence