As part of their summer drink driving campaign, the Lincolnshire Police have started a new service where the public are being asked to report their friends and relatives for drink driving.
The force has launched a text service for people to send information about habitual drink-drivers, so that such people are stopped and road safety is established.
People should text the word “DRINK” to 80800 with details of the vehicle, and when and where the person has been drinking. The driver’s name is not necessary.
The example cited is that, if somebody knew that a person regularly drinks on a particular night, and always drives their car home, and nothing seems to be getting done about it, then they should avail of this text service. Police will then use the information to catch people driving while they are drunk.
A source quoted, “It has always been possible to report somebody who is drink-driving to the police, but this idea of making it very simple and having a number to text is, as far as I’m aware, a very new idea.”
A criminal barristers view:
Whilst we strongly oppose drink driving and support any campaign to highlight the dangers of doing so, there is a concern that if crimes are being reported (as serious as drink driving) should they not be reported by dialing 999? For example, a text will not convey if there is a real and imminent danger to road users from seriously over the limit drink drivers. Often there can be other factors that can mitigate or even avert a person from drinking and driving if the police have full details of a complaint. Will this lead to other campaigns to report crimes by text? Less serious crime reporting could benefit , but is it appropriate for those who are alleged to have driven with excess alcohol?
Our concern is that in the prosecution of offenders for drink driving, which is an imprisionable offence, full information should be disclosed. Drink driving is always be treated as a serious offence in the Magistrates Court and Crown Court. Therefore anyone charged with an alcohol related driving offence should be entitled to know the exact basis upon which they were stopped and if the police had reasonable cause to do so. On one view, this could open to misuse. Again, it begs the question if a serious crime is allegedly being committed the police should the police not be called?