Drink-driving 'prevalent' on NI roads

By Colm Kelpie
BBC News NI

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Image source, PA
Image caption,
On average, more than 4,300 drivers have been disqualified in NI each year since 2013

More than 21,600 people in Northern Ireland have been banned from driving for motoring offences in the five years up to the end of 2017.

That is, on average, more than 4,300 each year, according to data from the Driver and Vehicle Agency (DVA).

Almost 10,000 were convicted of drink or drugs offences, while 2,233 were guilty of driving while disqualified.

More than a third of the 21,660 drivers were put off the road for between six months and a year.

'Catastrophic consequences'

The figures were obtained by BBC News NI under a Freedom of Information request.

A spokesman for the road safety charity Brake said the figures were a "clear illustration" that dangerous driving and, in particular, drink and drug driving are "still prevalent" on the roads in Northern Ireland.

"Driving over the alcohol limit or under the influence of drugs is illegal and can have potentially catastrophic consequences for yourself and all other road users," he added.

The Northern Ireland Policing Board posted on Twitter that it was "sad that drivers are still willing to risk their lives and the lives of others on our roads".

If a person is convicted of a motoring offence in Northern Ireland, he or she can receive penalty points or a period of disqualification can be imposed.

The driver can also be ordered to take another driving test.

The DVA data shows that there were 9,875 people convicted of drink/drug-related offences between 2013 and 2017 and 9,380 for insurance-related convictions that were disqualified.

The DVA pointed out that an individual could be convicted for multiple types of offence.

There were 918 drivers convicted for hit and run offences and 434 for using a mobile phone.

'Totting-up'

There were also 1,487 people who were convicted for "totting-up" - if you build up 12 or more penalty points within three years you can be liable to be disqualified under the "totting-up" system.

Of the 21,660 banned, 4,435 are recorded as currently having a Belfast postcode.

There are 1,621 in Londonderry, 1,380 in Newry and 937 in Dungannon.

Of the 21,660, some 35% were banned for between six months and a year.

In Northern Ireland, there are some offences for which, if a disqualification is imposed, another driving test must be taken before applying for the return of a driving licence.

These offences relate to drink, drugs, careless driving and dangerous driving.

Since 2013, there have been 81 individuals who have had to retake a driving test.