The records were released in response to a Freedom of Information request, which revealed:-
- That as many as 6,558 adolescents aged under 18 were caught driving under the influence of alcohol between 2008 and 2013.
- On an average 5 persons aged under-18 were caught for the offence of drink driving each week.
- Some offenders aged under 18 were caught driving without insurance and almost 25% of them were aged 16 or younger.
- The in-camera provider at Nextbase, in 2011 recorded the youngest offender in the Thames Valley in 2011 who was aged only 11,
- Some areas saw a manifold rise in the number of such offenders like North Yorkshire, West Mercia and Staffordshire saw an increase in the number of drunk-drive offenders between the years of 2012 and 2013,
- Greater Manchester was found as the most heavily affected region for under-age drink driving in England, where a total 409 under-aged offenders were arrested, some of them were even as young as 12-year-olds.
- Other areas of concern include Scotland, with 718 offenders, Hampshire with 276 offenders Devon and Cornwall and Sussex recorded 241 and 160 offenders respectively.
- The overall figures have dipped in the current year and Merseyside and Devon and Cornwall saw the greatest decline between the years 2012 and 2013.
- A total of 139 adolescents under 18 have been prosecuted and have had to face court trials for drink driving between the years 2008 and 2013. 26 of them were aged 16.
Response by the State authorities:
“Drink driving is a menace that costs lives, and the government is strengthening the law to help police crack down on this problem.” The Government declared that the drink driving laws were being strengthened.
A Department for Transport spokesman said: “Under-age driving is illegal and no person under the age of 17 should be driving a car. We have tough laws in place to tackle those caught driving without a licence.
A Criminal Barrister: Point of view
Under-aged drink driving is a major concern in the UK. The problem is still widespread and although there has been a gradual decline in the number of such offenders this offence is still persistent, particular amongst the young.
Involvement of young adolescents makes this issue all the more complicated as a criminal conviction, being disqualified from driving could have the serious consequences for a young persons future. Whilst traffic laws should be enforced and obeyed, particularly for serious offences the figures also demonstrate that, law enforcement itself is not the only answer.The focus should also be on orientation of young persons towards the far reaching consequences of a drink driving.Instilling fear of the law will be far more effective and productive if information and drink driving campaigns were sustained rather than restricted to Chrismas so as to be properly understood and reasoned with young minds.