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Drunk drivers - and cyclists - targeted by Cambridgeshire police

Senior officer gives graphic description of aftermath of crashes to hammer home seasonal anti-drink drive message

As Christmas approaches, police in Cambridgeshire have said they will be targeting drunk cyclists as well as drink-drivers in a seasonal clampdown unveiled today and running until the start of January.

Officers will carry out spot checks on motorists and carry out breath tests as well as ascertaining whether people are driving under the influence of drugs under the campaign, called Get Closer to Christmas.

Inspector Mark Rogers of Cambridgeshire Constabulary outlined to Cambridge News the stark reality facing people caught driving while above the drink-drive limit.

“The average cost of someone getting done for drink driving is about £50,000 so it is massive in terms of the financial repercussions and the personal repercussions in terms of social stigma of being a drink-driver,” he said. “The impact it has on employment prospects are huge.”

Last year, 125 people were arrested in the county for drink-driving in the run-up to Christmas, with 127 arrests made the previous year.

He also used graphic descriptions of the aftermath of crashes caused by drunk drivers to highlight why the force was clamping down on those who drank before getting behind the wheel. 

“I think people don’t understand the sheer horror of a road traffic accident,” said Inspector Rogers. “We see children thrown out of the windscreen and down the road. Let’s be clear about it – decapitation – is a horrendous picture.

“We’ve been to road traffic collisions where people have died and Christmas presents are strewn across the motorway – and it’s completely avoidable. Do not be tempted. Get a designated driver. A car is a lethal weapon.”

He also said that people cycling while drunk in Cambridge could be fined if they were considered to be riding in a careless or dangerous manner.

He explained: “It’s dangerous because you’ll probably go under the nearest car or lorry and the fact is cycling fatalities are going up.

“Cambridge is a massive area for cycling with a big student population and the roads are dark and narrow and it can be hairy enough cycling when you’re sober, let alone to do it when drunk. Cyclists need to concentrate to stay safe.”

Police said that they hoped members of the public would get in touch on a confidential hotline with the number 0800 032 0845 if they believe someone is drink-driving.

Inspector Rogers said: “Our message is clear – if you drive under the influence of drink and drugs, expect to be caught, it is reckless and irresponsible.

“We tackle drink-driving all year round, but over the next month drivers should expect a highly visible police presence on the county’s roads as we target those who drive under the influence.

“People can get involved in our campaign by supplying police with information about drink and drug drivers via the confidential hotline.”

Last year, the number of people caught driving under the influence of drink and drugs reduced, with 125 people arrested compared to 127 arrests the previous year.

According to the Bike Hub website’s article on Cycling and the Law, riding a bike while intoxicated can lead to a maximum penalty of £2,500.

Although no points are added to the rider’s driving licence, if he or she owns one, courts can, under the Powers of Criminal Courts (Sentencing) Act 2000, disqualify a cyclist convicted of any traffic-related offence from driving a motor vehicle.

The Act says:

The court by or before which a person is convicted of an offence committed after 31st December 1997 may, instead of or in addition to dealing with him in any other way, order him to be disqualified, for such period as it thinks fit, for holding or obtaining a driving licence.

Penalties for drunk cycling in some other EU member states are much tougher than they are here, however, with the offence viewed as being just as serious as driving a motor vehicle while intoxicated.

In 2009, a German student was fined €500 and banned from using a bicycle, skateboard or any other licence-free vehicle on the public roads, for 15 years after a breathalyser test found him to be three time the drink-driving limit.

During the same year, the BBC reported that in Poland, some 2,000 cyclists are arrested each year for cycling while drunk, and on average receive an 11 and a half month prison sentence.

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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Dr_Lex | 10 years ago

Whilst I can find mention of drunk cycling in the RTA 1988 here, and agree with the argument that one could lose one's licence thanks to the PCC(S)A 2000, I can't find anything that suggests that the police can breathalyse a cyclist, due to the non-motor nature of the 'conveyance'. I'd advise anyone stopped by the PoPo to refuse a breath test, say and do nothing and then discuss it with the duty solicitor back at the station if arrested.

tarquin_foxglove replied to Dr_Lex | 10 years ago
Dr_Lex wrote:

Whilst I can find mention of drunk cycling in the RTA 1988 here ... I'd advise anyone stopped by the PoPo to ... say and do nothing and then discuss it with the duty solicitor back at the station if arrested.

In a way, at least with a breath test there is a pass/fail limit, an objective test of impairment.

Being "unfit to ride through drink ... to such an extent as to be incapable of having proper control of the cycle" is subjective and it would be your word against the police officers.

So I'd try & be cooperative to a point, suggest pushing the bike home etc to avoid arrest.

farrell | 10 years ago

Balls to this, cycling home from the pub after a few pints is one of life's great pleasures.

They can't do anything if you just stay schtum and don't rise to their bait when they pull you over.

Although in reality I'd be in the "I'm not stopping" camp.

w jones | 10 years ago

No tolerance if you drink you don't drive ,cycle ,ride a horse, drive a plane ,now walking sort that out...

Edgeley | 10 years ago

There is no drink driving limit for cycling. Hence the rozzer will have to show dangerous cycling. Stay calm and make them prove it, would be my advice.

As for saying that a drunk cyclist will "probably" be in an accident, it is drivel.

Being v drunk and cycling is pretty stupid. Being even slightly drunk and drving a tonne of metal is criminal.

Hamster | 10 years ago

A car is a lethal weapon.

I wonder if Cambs police will be pressing for manslaughter charges for drivers killing while at the wheel in the light of this statement?

Ooh there goes a pig with wings (not a police reference).

Stumps | 10 years ago

We had one yesterday, a drunk student pedalling home - hit a pedestrian and went arse over tit !

No injuries to either party other than a bit of shock fortunately, her bike did not suffer the same fate though as its front wheel was squashed by a passing vehicle. Luckily it wasn't her !

pique | 10 years ago

Doesn't this engender the thought process:
"I'm going to be stopped if I if I ride the bike just as much as if I drive the car. I might as well chance it in the car"

caaad10 | 10 years ago

So, if I want a few drinks how should I get home? Taxi, you say? But yesterday you said we should encourage people out of cars to reduce pollution... Well, don't drink then, you say? But I'm sure you said you wanted me to spend my money to help the country recover from the recession...

There's a hole in my bucket.......

Mart | 10 years ago

A 15 year ban from cycling, skateboarding and anything else that could be considered transport is harsh. As is 11 months in jail.
Thats more of a punishment than our system gives to people who kill with their cars and lorys.

bambergbike | 10 years ago

I think it makes sense to have a more generous limit for cyclists, like for example, the Germans. Obviously nobody should cycle when drunk and incapable, but I think cycling at 20 mph after two glasses of wine is nothing like as dangerous as driving at 60 mph after consuming a similar amount of alcohol.

oozaveared replied to bambergbike | 10 years ago
bambergbike wrote:

I think it makes sense to have a more generous limit for cyclists, like for example, the Germans. Obviously nobody should cycle when drunk and incapable, but I think cycling at 20 mph after two glasses of wine is nothing like as dangerous as driving at 60 mph after consuming a similar amount of alcohol.

If you read what the Chief Constable said carefully I think you get the picture. There is no legal blood alcohol limit for cyclists, so there's no reason to assume we'll be in the same boat after 2 pints and possibly over. What he said was that if cyclists were obviously drunk they might get done but it would be for something else like cycling dangerously. It won't be for a specific technical blood alcohol limit. Having said that the police may well use a blood alcohol reading to show that you were in fact several times over the limit and they were right to stop you and say you were cycling dangerously.

I wouldn't worry about it. I think the amount you need to drink to be dangerous on a bike at around 15 - 20mph is more than you would want to drink before having a bike ride anyway.

OldRidgeback | 10 years ago

I've seen a few car crashes over the years, and they aren't pretty. One in particular I remember was a drink driving incident and the car rolled. None of the occupants was wearing a seatbelt; bit of a mess; four fatalities. Drinking or being under the influence of drugs and then cycling is just plain stupid.

I've absolutely no sympathy for anyone who gets caught, and that includes cyclists.

harrybav | 10 years ago

Used to be acceptable just to target drunk drivers.

rggfddne | 10 years ago

'Tis the season...

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