Drink driving conviction equals driving ban, right? Well no, that's not the case in many parts of the country, according to new figures which show more than a thousand convicted drink drivers still have a licence due to a sentencing postcode lottery.
So aside from the serious risk of lives, just how much is this revelation costing safe drivers in increased premiums?
As many as one in every twenty motorists convicted of drink driving escapes without disqualification in some areas according to the worrying research from insurer, LV=. Of the 55,539 people convicted of drink-driving last year, 1,480 were not disqualified from driving, a freedom of information request from the insurance company found.
The Ministry of Justice statistics also showed that 2.6% of drink-drivers re-offend within one year. The City of London and Suffolk are the most 'lenient' districts, with 4.7% of drink-drivers escaping disqualification. In contrast, only 1.3 per cent of offenders in Cumbria and Warwickshire fail to be disqualified.
Around 1 in 40 (2.6 per cent) of convicted drink drivers re-offend within a year, the LV report states. Magistrates have the discretion to set aside disqualification in cases with mitigating or exceptional circumstances.
The widespread disparity has angered road safety campaigners who are calling for a mandatory disqualification if a driver is found to be over the alcohol limit.
According to the Daily Mail, Kevin Clinton, head of road safety at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents said he was 'shocked' adding:' "Drink driving is such a serious offence that one hundred per cent of those convicted should lose their licence. Sentencing should be consistent. We need to know why people are not being disqualified and why there is such a postcode lottery on disqualification rates."
He said: "Drink drivers should not be allowed to plead exceptional circumstances."
Increase in accidents
Repeat drink drivers on the roads increases the risk of accidents, which in turn is another factor hiking insurance premiums across the board for everyone.
The Ministry of Justice statistics come as figures from Direct Line today report a worrying increase in 'crash for cash' incidents. This involves fraudsters faking accidents by making unnecessary emergency stops at busy roundabouts or slip roads, forcing motorists to crash into them. They then make bogus claims to the innocent motorist's insurer, often including fictitious injuries and passengers.
Using sophisticated monitoring systems, Direct Line are able to track the movements of fraudsters and have identified new crash hotspots where they are currently operating.
Top two crash for crash sites:
• Barking, A406 Eastbound, junction with Abbey Road.
• St Albans, North Orbital Road at Noke Lane / Lye Lane.
• A40 Intersection with North Circular, also known as the Hanger Lane Gyratory.
• Bedfordshire, A5 Dunstable Road junction with B4540 Lynch Hill.
• Bolton, M61 Junction 4.
• Roundabout at Oldham Bypass and Manchester Road.
• Woolston Grange Avenue, Warrington (roundabouts 7A, B, C, D).
• Chester Road, Little Aston, Birmingham near to its junction with Hobs Hole Lane.
• A4177 Honiley Road, just past Fen End going towards Warwick.
• A10/A121 roundabout.