People caught drink driving in Kent could lose their licence within hours of sobering up.
Kent Police will be using virtual court technology to put those charged with driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs before magistrates immediately. This means that people risk losing their licence on the day they are charged.
The announcement comes as Kent Police launches its seasonal road safety campaign to deter people from drink driving. Officers will be taking a zero tolerance stance on those who are found to be over the limit. Once charged, the motorist will appear in front of a magistrate, often via the virtual court video link. If they are found to be guilty then the magistrate has the power to ban the defendant from driving. This takes immediate effect.
The use of virtual courts was trialled as part of the drink-drive crackdown last year (1 December 2010 to 1 January 2011) with 17 people appearing before a magistrate via the high tech video network. In one case a motorist was banned from driving no less than 90 minutes after being charged with driving under the influence of drink.
Deputy Chief Constable Alan Pughsley explains: 'Usually motorists will be charged with drink driving and be bailed to appear before the court some weeks later. This means until a guilty verdict is reached they are free to drive. The use of the virtual court system means that the defendant risks losing their licence on the day of charge.'
As the party season begins officers will be conducting stop checks, targeting those who may be driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The checks will also involve examining the safety of the vehicle and ensuring any passengers are wearing seatbelts.
DCC Pughsley continued: 'Our message is simple, if you are driving, stay sober and alert - or risk losing your licence.
'Before getting behind the wheel ask yourself 'is it worth it?' The consequences of drink driving are severe. You could kill yourself or an innocent party, you risk losing your job and your reputation. Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is selfish and anti-social. In addition to being banned from driving you could receive a criminal record and a fine of up to £5,000.'
Kent Police is advising people to carefully plan their journeys and book a taxi, use a designated driver or public transport if you are going to drink. It is recommended that if you are driving you refrain from drinking any alcohol at all and people are asked to think about medication they may be on. Some prescription drugs can increase the danger of a collision if you have been drinking even the smallest amount of alcohol.
DCC Pughsley added: 'Around two people are killed in collisions on Kent's roads each week. Of these, statistics show that one in six of those deaths involve someone driving under the influence of drink or drugs. I would like to urge people to think about their actions, stay safe and be responsible.'
The campaign will run from 1 December 2011 to 1 January 2012.
Posted on: 1 December 2011
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