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Drink drivers in Dartford and Gravesend face ban within minutes

PUBLISHED: 17:18 01 December 2011

A man is tested for drink driving with a breathalyser -not anyone's idea of a Chrstimas present

A man is tested for drink driving with a breathalyser -not anyone's idea of a Chrstimas present

Archant

Motorists caught drink driving in Dartford and Gravesend could lose their licence within hours of drinking that foolish festive tipple.

Kent Police will be using virtual courts to put those charged with driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs before magistrates within hours of being caught drinking and driving.

The tough new approach could see them losing their licence on the day they are charged.

Kent Police is taking a zero tolerance stance on those who are found to be over the limit in a bid to prevent people getting behind the wheel when they are unsafe to drive.

Two people die in Kent every week after being involved in road accidents.

Once charged drink drive motorists will appear in front of a magistrate, often via the virtual court video link including the one at Northfleet station which was visited by Minister for Policing and Criminal Justice Nick Herbert this week.

If drivers are found to be guilty then the magistrate has the power to ban the defendant from driving - with immediate effect.

Police trialled virtual courts as part of the drink-drive crackdown last year and 17 people appearing before a magistrate via the high tech video network. In one sobering case a motorist was banned from driving no less than 90 minutes after being charged with driving under the influence of drink.

Deputy Chief Constable Alan Pughsley said: “Usually motorists will be charged with drink driving and be bailed to appear before the court some weeks later. This means until a guilty verdict is reached they are free to drive. The use of the virtual court system means that the defendant risks losing their licence on the day of charge.”

As the party season begins police will be out and about making stop checks, targeting people who could be driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

The checks will also look at safety of the vehicle and ensuring passengers are wearing seat belts.

DCC Pughsley added: “Our message is simple, if you are driving, stay sober and alert - or risk losing your licence.

“Before getting behind the wheel ask yourself ‘is it worth it?’ The consequences of drink driving are severe. You could kill yourself or an innocent party, you risk losing your job and your reputation. Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is selfish and anti-social. In addition to being banned from driving you could receive a criminal record and a fine of up to £5,000.”

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