Drink and drug driving convictions dropped in 2020, driven by lockdowns

Analysis of insurance data shows decline in convictions continues after a similar drop in 2019.

PSNI drink driving checkpoint
PSNI drink driving checkpoint

The number of drink and drug driving convictions has continued its downward trend in 2020, with coronavirus lockdowns believed to be one of the key drivers of this dip.

Insurance comparison site MoneySuperMarket analysed over six million car insurance quotes run on its site over the past 12 months, and found drink and drug offences had dropped from 0.86 per 1,000 drivers in 2019 to 0.79 in 2020.

This follows a similar decline between 2018 and 2019, when convictions dropped from 1.02.

The data showed that drivers in Llandudno in Wales had the highest number of drink and drug driving convictions declared on their insurance at a rate of 1.58 per 1,000 people. This was followed by Blackpool and Liverpool at 1.57, Darlington at 1.48 and Newport in 1.44.

The top four regions with the least convictions were all in England’s capital, with Ilford and Barking at 0.57, West End of London and North London at 0.58 and North West London at 0.59. Perth in Scotland also saw a rate of 0.59.

Men are more than twice as likely to have a conviction than women (1.32 versus 0.50), while those aged 20 to 24 are the most likely age group at 2.35.

Roofers are the most likely profession to have such a conviction at 6.1, followed by scaffolders and plumbers at 6.0.

Dodge drivers have the highest number of convictions at 1.79, followed by those who drive Vauxhalls (1.34) and BMWs (1.24).

Dave Merrick, car insurance spokesperson at MoneySuperMarket, said: “It’s positive to see an ongoing fall in drink and drug driving rates. We know that rates have been on a downward trajectory for some time and it’s likely that lockdown has had a further impact, with people driving less and greater restrictions on where alcohol can be consumed.

PSNI drink driving checkpoint
Motorist Claire Erki blowing a clear result into a PSNI breathalyser during a random drink driving checkpoint in Belfast.

“With a quieter Christmas and New Year period ahead of us than usual, I’d be hopeful that seasonal drink and drug driving rates will also be down this year due to fewer opportunities to socialise as a result of government restrictions.

“Nevertheless, it’s important to be vigilant. This time of year always presents an increased chance that people will drive while over the limit – and often without realising, because it can be tricky to know when you’ve stepped over the legal threshold.

“To avoid any uncertainty, if you think you’re over the limit, don’t take the chance. Not only are you putting yourself and others at risk, a drink or drug driving conviction can result in a long time off the road and sky-high car insurance premiums.”

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