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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
If you have an accident and you're over the limit, it's your fault - regardless.
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.
Can we also shop the drunken pedestrians who wander into the
road in front of sober drivers? It is equally dangerous.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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?
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!
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.
Too right I would, and what's more I'd do it for nothing.
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.
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.
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.
Wouldn't think twice about doing it. Kill yourself if you want, don't put others in danger with your stupidity and arrogance.
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.
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.
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.
Yes - in a second, and no, the thought of a reward is not the motivation.
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.
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".
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.
Mark Dowe, Scotland, UK
29 Nov 01 | England
Reward to 'shop' drink drivers
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