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Wednesday, 5 December, 2001, 17:24 GMT
Would you shop a drink driver?
Thames Valley police force are offering rewards of up to 500 to people who tip them off about drink-drivers this Christmas.

People can leave anonymous tip-offs on a freephone line if they know someone who is over the limit this Christmas and New Year.

Thames Valley Police said there would be "no hiding place" for intoxicated motorists and called on family, friends, publicans and neighbours to help. If a call leads to an arrest and conviction the average cash reward will be between 80 and 120.

The crackdown comes as a survey suggested that a third of motorists regularly drink and drive, believing they are under the legal alcohol limit.

Would you shop a drink driver?

This debate is now closed. Read your comments below.


Your reaction:


We should have a no drink and drive law as in Switzerland

Geoff, UK
11 years ago my wife to be and unborn child were killed in a road accident as the result of a drink driver. The driver was 3 times over the limited. The emergency services at the scene were excellent but were unable to save my partner. I would not hesitate to report anybody who drank and drove and believe that we should have a no drink and drive law as in Switzerland.
Geoff, UK

I'd like to think that any of us seeing a motorist having trouble controlling his vehicle or a friend whom we know has been drinking a bit and is about to get into his vehicle would try to help the situation without having to be paid for it. I don't need money before I'll help my friends out. On the road, everyone is my friend, and should be yours, too.
Phil Powers-DeGeorge, USA

I would shop anyone who I thought was one iota over the limit without a second thought. Anyone caught drinking and driving should automatically be banned from driving for a minimum of 10 years, regardless of who they are or what job they hold.
Kay Harris, England


You don't let your mates drink if they are driving

Dave, UK
You don't let your mates drink if they are driving. It's called looking after each other and you should not need the police to do this for you. All this moralising about shopping your friends in a second suggests you would rather shift the responsibility to a third party instead of dealing with it yourself.
Dave, UK

My Thai girlfriend is one of the most sensible people I know. She doesn't smoke and rarely drinks. However, when she does she has no qualms at all about getting on her motorbike afterwards. This vehement opposition to drink driving is a peculiar British thing. How about limiting prosecutions to those who actually cause accidents? Enough of these 'What if...' safety policies.
LDMA, Thailand

I would certainly shop a drunk driver and donate the money to charity. I don't know how people can say that they wouldn't report a drunk. They are just a menace to society and I think that it's about time for a zero-tolerance attitude towards this sort of thing.
Billy Finlay, Scotland, UK

What about accidents on the road that are not caused by drink-driving and are not caused by driving at excessive speed? We seem to have the quaint belief that if you're alcohol-free and driving below the speed limit you must be a safe driver.
Simon Moore, UK

The option of phoning Crimestoppers and shopping a drunk driver is nothing new. The problem was that the vast majority of the population didn't know how to go about it. The recent offer of a reward has had its desired effect - namely publicity.
John L, UK


I don't need bribing by the police to "shop" a drunk driver, I already did

Josephine Bacon, UK
I don't need bribing by the police to "shop" a drunk driver, I already did so. I saw a man who was clearly drunk preparing to drive away in a car that contained his wife and young children. It happened in Gloucester in 1988. He spent the night in a police cell and appeared in court the next day. My "reward" was that he smashed a side-window of my car, but I probably saved his life and those of his family. Why don't more people have the guts to do the right thing? One reason could be that so many drunk drivers turn out to be doctors, magistrates and judges.
Josephine Bacon, UK

I think it's pathetic that you'd have to be paid to do such a thing. Anybody who appears to have been drinking and is driving should be called in to the authorities immediately.
Thom , USA

Shop the lot of them. I have a sister who is brain damaged and paralysed, due to a tight person who wouldn't pay for a cab home, and I'm raising her children. The first step in to easing this selfish problem, no limit, not one drink, and that's just a little step, but in the right direction.
Sue Cowell, uk


If someone had shopped a drunkard, my friend would probably be alive today

Michael Entill, UK
I would report a drink driver without any hesitation. When I was 18, my best friend was killed by a drink driver who ended up with a suspended sentence and lost his licence for five years. If someone had shopped that drunkard, my friend would probably be alive today. Save someone's life or inform on a drink-driver? It's really not difficult to decide the priorities here.
Michael Entill, UK

The fact is that alcohol makes everybody over confident, whether it is on the dance floor or behind the wheel of a car. People who are dumb enough to think that they are good drivers after having a skin full of alcohol should be locked up to protect the rest of us.
Iain, Scotland

If I knew someone drinking & driving I would inform the police & I wouldn't need a financial reward to do it. The reward is that no-one was killed or injured by someone's act of blatant stupidity. Lets look at drink-driving for what it really is, manslaughter.
Jason, Manchester, England

Yes I would shop a drink driver and I would donate the reward to a charity that helped the victims of these criminals. I agree with the sentiments expressed by Jason from Manchester, but I would say that morally, if you choose to drink and drive, and then kill someone while driving, this should be considered to be premeditated murder, and you should be tried as such.
Graham, London, England


I would shop any drunk driver without hesitation

Danny C, UK
I'm not interested in a reward - I would shop any drunk driver without hesitation. In fact, I have done so on three occasions. Twice the police didn't act, the third time the police did turn up just as the car was pulling away and stopped the driver. He turned out to be nearly three times over the limit, and his only response to the police pointing this out to him was that they should be spending their time chasing "real criminals". While arrogant people like this are still allowed to buy cars, then it's up to the rest of us to make sure we protect those who could end up as victims of these idiots.
Danny C, UK

So you shop someone for drink driving and what happens. The courts are generally pretty lenient. A driver may be disqualified for a few months but at the end of the day they get their license back. They should have to resist the test. Even if someone causes death and injury in a car, the consequences of their poor driving are rarely reflected in the sentence. People are killed by careless drivers every day and never make the headlines, but if a driver gets jailed for a year or two, it's headline news.
Michael, UK

If you have an accident and you're over the limit, it's your fault - regardless.
Rob, UK

In essence, the question is: "Would I invite someone to my home, have a few drinks and a chat and then shop them for drinking and driving home for 500?" It's a difficult question, as you must know the person being reported, but then 500 could come in handy just prior to Christmas. We are all aware, via several don't drink and drive campaigns, that drinking and driving is dangerous. It is also, nowadays, highly socially unacceptable. But would I shop a friend? No. And I think that this is likely to be the view of most of the rural residents of Thames Valley. I anticipate a low take-up rate of this kind offer.
Will Collins, UK

Can we also shop the drunken pedestrians who wander into the road in front of sober drivers? It is equally dangerous.
Sue, UK


It is bad driving that kills, not the blood alcohol level of the driver

Dave, UK
I cannot believe peoples' attitudes to drink driving. It is bad driving that kills, not the blood alcohol level of the driver. If, heaven forbid, one of my children was killed by a driver I would care not whether he was drunk, on other drugs, tired, speeding, blind or whatever. I would still want him or her permanently off the road and in prison for a very long time.
Dave, UK

As long as you have a legal limit then some people will take a drink and believe they are under the limit. The option is to either ban any legal limit except perhaps for a minimum level to cover certain foods and medicines that register a small reading.
Gerry, Scotland

I phoned the police to report a drunk driver drinking in a pub once. He was a regular drink driver and often ran his car up the kerb on the way home. The police told me they "didn't have the manpower to sit outside a pub all evening". Perhaps I should have waited until he'd actually hit someone before phoning.
Sophie, England

In principle no one should hesitate to report drunk drivers, even without a reward as an incentive. However the flaw in this scheme is the possibility of an unscrupulous person spiking an innocent person's drink in order to collect the reward by reporting them. The only real answer is to treat alcohol as the dangerous drug that it is and discourage its use totally - by education rather than legislation.
AA, UK


We should all be looking out for our friends, not trying to make money from their mistakes

Rob, UK
I am a convicted drink-driver. Although I now have my licence back I am not on the road. I was a regular offender, too weak to say no to drink when I had my car with me. I know I was lucky to get away with just being caught - if I had killed someone I would've ruined many lives, including my own. When I do get back behind the wheel I will never drink and drive again, and yes I will shop anyone if I know they are drink driving. Luckily many of my friends have learnt from the error of my ways. However, I don't think a financial reward should be offered. We should all be looking out for our friends, not trying to make money from their mistakes.
Rob, UK

Try and get the keys off them. Get them a cab. Shove some money in a meter. If they object shop them - friend or no friend. Once, 20 years ago at a party I drunk and drove home. Luckily nothing happened. I hadn't had too much to drink, possibly four glasses of wine, but I was over the limit. When I got home, I shook like a leaf when I realised what could have happened. Since then not even half a lager will pass my lips if I have to drive. After all, what's even an extortionate taxi fare compared to someone's life?
Sue Hudson, London, UK

I most certainly would not shop a drink driver. The law is absolutely ludicrous. It is perfectly possible for an experienced driver who is accustomed to alcohol to be two or three times over the current limit and still drive a lot more safely than many of the sober idiots on the road. I would simply make it an offence to cause an accident. Causing an accident in which people are injured or killed should always be regarded as a very serious offence and the driver at fault should be imprisoned for an appropriate period and banned from driving for life. Less serious accidents should result in fines and driving bans of a year or so. All drivers who are banned should be required to retake their test before regaining their license.
Kulu, UK

Wow, all these responses seem to be full of intense moral indignation. Drink driving is obviously a pet hate of the British public. It's strange that other, perhaps more serious issues, don't generate the same universal response such as racism, poverty, the environment and so on. I wonder why this is?
Col, Poland


It is our duty to each other and as responsible citizens to get those crazy people of the road

Mark Dowe, Scotland, UK
Having seen living testimony of what a drink-driver did to a small 4 year old child, anybody caught drink-driving should be severely punished. This should include having licence removed, heavily fined or imprisoned particularly where the offence led to the death of an innocent victim. Why would anyone want to be encouraged by a 500 reward for shopping in some stupid person who has decided to take a weapon in his hands when under the influence of alcohol. It is our duty to each other and as responsible citizens to get those crazy people of the road in the interests of safety to all by reporting everything you know to the police without hesitation.
Mark Dowe, Scotland, UK

Excellent idea! These motorists need to be taught a harsh lesson that they are, in effect, in charge of loaded gun - it kills!
Peter, London

I think no reward should be required for fulfilling your civic duty. Offering rewards may encourage the wrong kind of attitude. But there is no harm with it being tried out in a pilot scheme.
Michael, Dublin, Ireland

Too right I would, and what's more I'd do it for nothing.
Bill, UK

Anybody who knowingly lets somebody drive off so as to collect 500 should themselves be arrested for not preventing the person taking the wheel. Any establishment open to the public that allows a person to leave the premises, knowing that he or her will drive, should also be prosecuted. Bars are happy to take our money and so they should be willing to bear the consequences.
Joe Ryan, France

I would do everything I could to stop the individual from driving, if then he went ahead then I would have no problem reporting a member of my own family, and they know I would do it and I would not need a reward. As long as this reward doesn't encourage the more devious to allow or let people drive whilst drunk in order that they can collect a reward then it will be OK. I hope it saves many people from ruined lives.
Andy, UK


A car travelling at speed with an idiot behind the wheel, who is not in full control of their faculties is a disaster waiting to happen

Nick, UK
There must be zero tolerance when it comes to drink driving. The number of fatalities on the road are bad enough without the idiots who decide to drive after drinking. I would have no problems shopping a drink driver. A car travelling at speed with an idiot behind the wheel, who is not in full control of their faculties is a disaster waiting to happen. With Christmas coming up it does not take much for people to make some form of alternative arrangements to get themselves home. Those who choose to put their lives and the lives of other road users at risk should feel the force of the law and those who do shop them should be rewarded for their actions in stopping potential carnage.
Nick, UK

Most certainly, but NOT for the money. I've done it before and I'd do it again. These people think they're above the law, and they 'know their own limits'. Unfortunately, it often seems to be someone else they injure or kill, rather than themselves. It's so easy not to drink and drive, that there's no excuse for it. If financial incentives help catch these people, then so be it.
Lisa, England

Wouldn't think twice about doing it. Kill yourself if you want, don't put others in danger with your stupidity and arrogance.
Kenny, UK

Generally speaking of course, I would. Although I would find it much harder to be the informer on a friend. However if that friend wasn't going to listen to some good advice, then maybe they are not quite the mate you thought they were.
Helen, Leeds, UK

Drinking and driving is totally, utterly and completely unacceptable. If a good friend of mine was driving while drunk, I'd shop him for his own good - better to be pulled over by the police than to kill himself or someone else.
Hugh, England


How could that person allow that drunk to drive? That person is almost as guilty as the driver

Steve MCCoull, UK
Yes I would. When I was 19, a friend and I both received serious head injuries when a drunk driver drove into our taxi. Someone who saw the accident told police that they had been in the same pub and seen the driver drink 8 pints of strong lager. How could that person allow that drunk to drive? That person is almost as guilty as the driver.
Steve MCCoull, UK

A few years ago I had a boss who always had a few too many at the pub and then drove home. We all knew he was a danger on the road, however there was nothing we could do to stop him. Whilst I don't like the idea of 'shopping' someone, this could be used as a last resort.
Caron, England

Yes - in a second, and no, the thought of a reward is not the motivation.
AV, UK

I wouldn't shop a friend to the police. Instead I would take them aside and explain my distaste at their actions on a personal level.
Dean, UK

There really is no excuse for anyone to drive under the influence of alcohol. The effects of drink driving are all to well-known. Not only could the drunk driver kill themselves, they can end up injuring, maiming or killing innocent bystanders. If I knew a friend was going to drive a car under the influence of alcohol, I'd first of all try to convince them to leave the car and take public transport. If that didn't work, I'd have no hesitation to "shop" them, with or without a "reward".
Helen, UK

Yes! Because one day that drunk driver might cause an accident that kills someone I love. I would try to stop them from driving initially though.
Jo, UK


It is our duty to each other

Mark Dowe, Scotland, UK
Having seen living testimony of what a drink-driver did to a small 4 year old child, anybody caught drink-driving should be severely punished. This should include having licence removed, heavily fined or imprisoned particularly where the offence led to the death of an innocent victim. Why would anyone want to be encouraged by a 500 reward for shopping in some stupid person who has decided to take a weapon in his hands when under the influence of alcohol? It is our duty to each other and as responsible citizens to get those crazy people of the road in the interests of safety to all by reporting everything you know to the police without hesitation.
Mark Dowe, Scotland, UK

 VOTE RESULTS
Would you shop a drink driver?

Yes
 83.14% 

No
 16.86% 

4247 Votes Cast

Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion

See also:

29 Nov 01 | England
Reward to 'shop' drink drivers
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