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How to Stay Safe on The Roads This Christmas

Despite efforts and annual campaigns to tackle drink and drug driving, many people continue to break the law when getting behind the wheel.

As road traffic defence lawyers we see lives ruined all too often, especially around the festive period when people are tempted to drive during or after a night out.

We have commissioned research asking over 2,000 motorists their thoughts and experiences on driving whilst under the influence of drink or drugs.

To support the research we will be releasing a series of blogs which highlight the dangers of both drug driving and drink driving.

 My five top tips for staying safe on the road throughout the festive period are simple.

  1. Don’t take drugs and drive – It is extremely dangerous to drive under the influence of drugs because they impair your driving skills in numerous ways.

    In particular you should be careful not to drive if you have had prescription drugs and a drink as when combined this can make a dangerous combination. For more information read The Law on Drug-Driving.

  2. Don’t drink and drive – Like many illegal drugs alcohol creates a feeling of overconfidence so it is important to remember that even if you feel invincible it affects everybody's driving for the worse.

    Drinking slows your reactions; this makes your stopping distance longer which increases the likelihood of crashes.

    You might ‘feel fine’ but even small amounts of alcohol impede your ability to judge distance and speed. Similarly, you should be careful not to drive the morning after a heavy night of drinking as you risk being over the limit from alcohol consumption the night before.

    There are three separate charges which you could be pressed with. These are being drunk in charge of a vehicle, drink driving and failure to provide a specimen. The separate charge of failure to provide a specimen holds strict punishments which can outstrip other charges so it is never a good idea to intentionally fail to provide a reading.

    For more information read What You Should do if Accused of Drink Driving.

  3. Don’t get in the car with someone who has been drinking or has taken drugs – As we have already stated it is dangerous for anyone to drive under the influence of drink or drugs and this makes it perilous for anyone who chooses to ride as their passenger.

    Before accepting a lift from a friend you should be aware that if your driver has an accident while under the influence, courts will try to establish whether or not any passengers knew if the driver was drunk or under the influence of drugs.

    If it can be proved that you were aware that the driver was intoxicated at the time of the accident then the defendant driver’s insurance company will generally seek a 20 per cent reduction for ‘contributory negligence’. To avoid this situation ask the driver if they have been drinking or taking drugs and do not get in a car with them if they have.

  4. Have a designated driver for parties – If you are heading to parties over the festive period where you will be drinking it is a good idea to plan ahead and agree on who will drive everyone home.

    You can take it in turns to be the designated driver so that it isn’t always the same person swearing off alcohol for the night and taking responsibility for getting everybody home safely.

  5. Don’t drive with snow on your car – You are probably aware that it is illegal to drive with snow or ice obscuring your vision or blocking your number plate and lights. The law states that you must ensure your windows are demisted thoroughly and your mirrors clear before you set off on a journey.

    You might be surprised to learn that the law requires you to remove all snow that might fall from your car into the path of other road users. This means that before you drive you should always remove any snow resting on the bonnet of your car as well as on the roof and anywhere else it might stick to.

If you ever get arrested for drink or drug driving you will always have the right to legal representation and it is always best if your exercise this right. Slater and Gordon Lawyers can provide legal representation for driving offences anywhere in England and Wales. Call us on freephone 0808 175 7998 or contact us online.

Paul Reddy is an expert in road traffic offences.

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