I had noticed the man out of the corner of me eye. It was closing time and I was driving past the pub when I saw the man stagger slightly as he approached a red van in the car park.
I quickly turned the police car round, suspecting he was going to get into the driver’s seat, in the hope I could stop him before he had the chance to even attempt to drive off.
By the time I turned my police car around, the van had pulled out of the pub car park and had set off along the road.
I stopped the van and, not surprisingly, when I breathalysed the driver he was over the limit so off we went to the local police station.
The next night as I was heading out on patrol when I drove the past the same pub only to see the same red van pulling out of the same pub car park. I couldn’t quite believe it when I pulled up at traffic lights next the van to see the same driver I had arrested the night before, sitting behind the wheel looking much the worse for wear.
For the second night in a row I breathalysed him and, once again, off we went to the police station where he was over the limit.
He left the police station the next morning with his court date and I didn’t really give it much thought after that.
That night I followed my usual routine, setting off in the police car, turning right and passing the pub – which was only a couple of hundred feet away from the police station– only to see the same red van in pulling out of the car park at the same time. I really couldn’t believe that he would be as foolish to do the same thing three nights in a row, but he had and when he was breathalysed he was very much over the limit once again. At court he received a prison sentence and a substantial driving ban.
That was quite a few years ago and very few people would be that foolish today. I have been to a number of road traffic collisions involving drink drivers and I have seen the tragic consequences first hand.
As we approach the Christmas party season it is a poignant time to think about those potential consequences. What might seem like a quick drink – “I’ve only had a couple, I’ll be fine to drive” – could change your, or someone else’s, life forever. Start by thinking about the things you could lose.
Losing your licence – how would that impact on your day to day life? Could you still work?
Then what about losing your liberty if you were sent to prison?
And finally a life. Someone else’s or yours, perhaps. Licence, livelihood, liberty, life. Worth thinking about isn’t it?
Enjoy yourself, have fun and then get a taxi home at the end of the night – and remember you can still be over the limit the morning after too.