How a 'quick pint' could cost you £50,000

The Department for Transport’s anti drink-driving initiatives have undergone a constant refinement and reinforcement over the last 30 years, and have played their part in cutting the number of drink-related deaths on UK roads from a staggering 1,640 in 1979 to just 280 in 2011.


To deliver the message that drink-driving devastates lives, these campaigns have featured everything from harrowing reconstructions of fatal crashes to the macabre image of a child’s lifeless body haunting the mind of a guilty driver.

The department’s latest anti-drinking drive is a lot more subtle in its approach, but no less thought provoking. It highlights the financial struggle that could be faced by anyone convicted of a DR-code offence by working out exactly how much that ‘quick pint’ could cost in the long run.

And to reinforce the message, the Think! campaign will be re-running the famous ‘Moment of doubt’ ad, featuring a barman’s cautionary tale to one of his customers, shown below.

The £50,000 pint

The Department for Transport has bucked the trend a little with its new campaign by releasing it in March as opposed to Christmas or during the summer months. Instead of targeting seasonal party-goers this message is aimed at drivers who regularly go for a pint or two after work without considering the risk they are putting themselves and other people at.

Instead of looking at the physical and emotional implications of crashing or running down a pedestrian while under the influence, this latest initiative looks at how much you stand to lose financially if you are convicted, which could be anything up to a staggering £50,000 for an average earner.

And it could all be because of that one ‘quick pint’.

Stephen Hammond, road safety minister, said at the launch of the initiative: "It might only look like a humble pint of beer, but it could end up costing much more than a few quid. In fact, it comes with an eye-watering hidden cost if it pushes you over the limit."

So what are these ‘eye-watering hidden costs’? Well, the first is one that you’d probably expect and that’s the fine that is issued by the courts. These range from £200 to £5,000 depending upon the circumstances of the offence.

However, what you may not be aware of is that a not-guilty plea will see you having to pay additional solicitor’s fees on top of this fine. The Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) suggests this will add another £4,800 on to the amount you have to find.

Then come the legacy costs of having a drink driving conviction on your licence, which the IAM suggests could be as much as £41,000 when inflated insurance premiums and loss of earnings are taken into account.

For a 20 to 24 year old male, insurance costs could increase by as much as £8,000 over the course of the 11 years that a DR code offence stays on your licence.

This is obviously a worst case scenario, and uses the example of a young driver, but the increase in car insurance costs can be significant as MoneySupermarket calculations show that if a 30-year-old male has a drink-driving offence on his licence he can expect to pay an additional £703.19 on his premiums.

If someone convicted of drink-driving needs to drive as part of his or her job, then a 15-month driving ban, the typical period of disqualification after conviction (the minimum is 12 months) could result in a loss of earnings of £33,000 based on a salary of £26,500.

This also assumes that you will still have a job to go to at the end of the 15-month disqualification. If not, the loss of earnings figure could be even greater, particularly if the endorsement forces you into a change of career.

Neil Greig, IAM’s head of policy, says that the campaign is aimed at a hard core of drinkers who would not respond to the previous messages that drink-driving could lead to them injuring or killing themselves or someone else.

Mr Greig added: “What they do worry about, however, is how a drink-driving conviction will hit them in the pocket, possibly by stopping them from working. This is why this new campaign is such good news."

How much is too much?

It’s almost 50 years since the new Road Safety Bill was introduced and set the legal blood alcohol limit at 80mg of alcohol for every 100ml of blood to begin the process of changing people’s attitudes to drink-driving.

However, there is still no definitive way to work out how much an individual can drink and stay below the legal limit. This not only varies from person to person, but the same person’s tolerance levels are affected by what they’ve recently eaten or how stressed they are.

Other factors affecting alcohol tolerance are age, weight, gender, how fast your metabolism works and, of course, the amount and type of alcohol you’re drinking.

So, it’s best to stay completely sober behind the wheel – no wants to pick up a £50,000 bar tab, and no-one should literally be dying for a drink.

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