Press release

Drink drive and lose your car

Conviction consequences THINK! drink-drive campaign launched.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

THINK logo

Two thirds of UK drivers would be devastated if they lost their car according to figures published today (6 June 2013) as Road Safety Minister Stephen Hammond launched a new THINK! drink-drive campaign to raise awareness of the consequences of a conviction.

The survey, commissioned by the AA and conducted by Populus, also shows that:

  • 31% of motorists are at their happiest behind the wheel
  • 32% say they rely on their car to maintain friendships
  • without a car 76% of 18 to 24 year olds would find it difficult to see friends and do the things they love – 88% would be devastated if they could not drive
  • 16% rate having a car as the best thing in their lives with the figure rising to 27% among 18 to 24 year olds.

The latest campaign will see radio adverts, pub posters and an eye-catching short online film drilling the message home that motorists face heavy costs if they drink and drive.

Stephen Hammond said:

Drink driving is a menace and drivers should be clear that if you get behind the wheel over the limit this summer, you will lose your licence, get a criminal record, and face a fine – you could even end up in jail.

The findings of this poll are clear: drivers love their cars and a drink driving conviction would not only leave a massive hole in their pockets, it would leave a massive hole in their lives.

Nobody wants to spend their summer in a prison cell so whether you are drinking in the pub or at a friend’s barbeque, make sure you do not drink and drive – it could have devastating consequences for you and for others.

The £740,000 THINK! campaign is being launched alongside plans by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) to carry out extra checks on motorists over the summer.

ACPO lead for roads policing, Chief Constable Suzette Davenport, said:

Police take this offence very seriously and experience shows us that courts take a very dim view of anyone who is caught.

It is appalling that in 2013 we still have to remind people not to drink or take drugs and drive. To combat this we will be stopping and testing thousands more drivers throughout the month of June.

For causing death whilst driving when under the influence of alcohol or drugs, drivers could face 14 years imprisonment.

These deaths are avoidable if drivers simply make the decision not to drink or take drugs and drive, or make alternative arrangements to get home from summer time events.

Edmund King, AA president said:

AA/Populus research shows that one third of drivers are happiest behind the wheel of a car, whilst one third rely on their car to maintain their relationships. It’s not just freedom of the road drivers lose by drink-driving – it’s freedom, full-stop.

Even if drink driving doesn’t end in a crash, it is likely to lead to a separation from the car for at least 12 months if caught. If you are going to drive, don’t drink and if you are going to drink, don’t drive.

The Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) calculated that the cost of a conviction could be up to £50,000 – this is based on someone losing their job for as a result of their conviction, receiving the maximum fine, the average cost of legal fees and increased insurance premiums.

Notes to editors

The survey, which was carried out by Populus and interviewed 19,859 people aged 18 and above, shows that 67% of respondents said they would be devastated if they lost their car. 88% of 18 to 24 year olds say they would be devastated if they lost their car.

Meanwhile 3% of 18 to 24 year olds say their car contributes more to their quality of life than their relationship or marriage, their friends, their family and their home; 2% of 25 to 34 year olds felt the same way.

More than 51,000 people were convicted of drink driving in 2011. In the same year alcohol impairment was a contributory factor in 5,384 road accidents in Great Britain.

Statistics also show that 9,990 reported casualties (5% of all road casualties) occurred when someone was driving over the legal alcohol limit.

The £50,000 Pint was part of THINK! the Department for Transport’s road safety campaign.

The IAM calculated the cost of a drinking and driving conviction at £51,600 as follows:

  • £5,000, the maximum fine (source: DfT)
  • £4,800 in legal fees, the industry average charged by solicitors for a not guilty plea at trial (source: JMW Solicitors) £8,800, the increase in insurance fees based on the average premium for a young man aged between 20 and 24 calculated over an 11-year period, the amount of time a drink driving conviction remains on your driving licence (source:
  • £33,000 in lost earnings, based on a period of 15-months, the mean driving disqualification after conviction, for someone earning the average full-time salary of £26,500 (sources: ONS and DVLA).

Roads media enquiries

Published 6 June 2013