That extra pint could cost you £50,000: Manchester given startling reminder of true cost of drink-driving

By Mark Shales

The twisted remains of a car trashed in a fatal drink-drive collision were on show at Manchester University this morning as part of the government’s Think! campaign.

It is there to highlight the devastating effects of the offence as the driver of the car involved was killed instantly – after drinking just two pints.

The Institute of Advanced Motorists believe the cost of a drink-driving conviction could be as much as £50,000 but Inspector Paul Rowe, 58, of Greater Manchester Police insists the total could be much higher.

“I think the government have been very conservative with £50,000,” he told MM.

“They’ve asked us to say that but if it involves a serious injury with a substantial claim coming it could be a lot more.

“Drink driving is a problem because people are just accepting they’ll get away with it because they’ve got away with for it so long.”

Cheshire man Matthew Wilson was killed after hitting a tree at just 43mph in October 2010 – what would have been two days before his 22nd birthday.

Tests confirmed no more than two after-work pints had taken him above the legal limit and PC Dave Murray, 47, of Cheshire Police stressed people need to be made more aware.

“A lot of regular divers will think two pints is within the legal limit,” he told MM. “The fact is though it takes different amounts of alcohol for different people to reach the legal limit.

“In every other respect his driving was legal and reasonable.”

The £50,000 total was based on an initial £5,000 fine and £4,800 in legal fees – the industry average charged by solicitors for a not-guilty plea at trial.

Add to that an increase in insurance fees of £8,000 – the average premium for a man aged between 20-24 over an 11-year period, the amount of time a drink-driving conviction remains on a driving licence.

The remaining £33,000 came from lost earnings based on a 15-month period – the mean driving disqualification after conviction – for someone earning the national average full-time salary of £26,500.

Road Safety minister Stephen Hammond made a stark warning about the eye-watering hidden costs of driving while over the limit.

“It might only look like a humble pint of beer, but it could end up costing much more than a few quid,” he said.

“Anyone thinking of drinking and driving should be without any doubt – if you are caught driving over the limit you will face a heavy court fine and lose your licence – you could even go to prison.”

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