12:00 Sunday 29 December 2013

Lawyer hits out at crime chief drink-drive stance


Matthew Ellis Matthew Ellis

ONE of the UK’s top motoring lawyers has attacked Staffordshire’s crime and crime commissioner over comments he made on drink-driving.

Nick Freeman, also known as Mr Loophole, spoke out after Matthew Ellis’s remarks during a radio interview about naming and shaming drivers caught after getting behind the wheel under the influence of alcohol.

During the interview, Mr Ellis said: “The drink-drive limit in this country is now so low anyway, why bother with that glass of wine?”

However, Mr Freeman disagreed, saying he thought the legal alcohol limit was in fact high.

He said: “The limit was introduced during the late 1960s and has remained at the same level since.

“Mr Ellis also maintained that he thought the legal limit is 35mg of alcohol in 100ml of blood.

“In fact, the limit is 80mg per 100ml of blood – which is actually the highest level in Europe.”

During the festive period, Staffordshire Police took to its official Twitter page, @StaffsPolice, to publicly tweet the names of everyone in the county caught driving over the limit as part of their annual festive anti-drink drive campaign.

However, the force was forced to defend its decision after an online survey was completed by almost 500 people sharing their views on the controversial tactic.

The questionnaire was created in a bid to determine whether people supported naming motorists charged with drink-drive offences and whether it would help people think about the consequences of this type of offence.

Overwhelmingly 83 per cent of those surveyed supported using social media to name those arrested and charged for drink-driving with only three per cent unsure.

Nearly 61 per cent believe that it will help drivers think more about the consequences if they drive after drinking.

Chief Inspector Paul Trevor said the campaign was designed to make roads across Staffordshire safer during the Christmas and New Year period.

He said: “The aim of the initiative is to send clear messages to drivers not to drink-drive and to make Staffordshire roads even safer.

“During the annual month-long Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) drink-drive campaign the force will update daily on the force’s social media accounts those who have been caught drink-driving.

“The actions of drink-drivers who risk their own and other people’s lives can end in tragedy.

“One person killed or seriously injured is one too many and we should all play our part in keeping these risk takers off the road.”

Officers will continue to conduct road-side stop checks and drivers involved in collisions should expect to be breathalysed.

“Even the morning after a night out drivers could still be over the legal limit.

“Mistakenly some believe if they have eaten and slept they will be okay to drive.”

There have been concerns raised about naming those charged.

However, it is force policy to name people who have been charged and when offenders attend court it becomes a matter of public record.

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