Teenager, 16, among 755 drink drivers caught on Norfolk’s roads

A mother who lost her daughter to a drink-driver on a Norfolk road has called for people with a history of drinking problems to be more carefully assessed before being given their driving licences back.

Her call came as it emerged that teenagers as young as 16 were among 755 motorists caught drink-driving on the county's roads last year.

Some motorists got behind the wheel while more than four times the limit, with rural areas in particular continuing to have a drink-drive problem.

In December, drink-driver Amanda Brierley from The Street, South Lopham near Diss, was jailed for eight years for killing Claire McKeown, who was visiting Norfolk from Liverpool for a wedding on July 1 last year.

Brierley, 47, drank two bottles of wine before getting into her silver BMW and driving into the back of the car Mrs McKeown, 32, was travelling in near Roydon.

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Mrs McKeown's mother, Sally Walker, told the EDP that people who had been before the courts before on drinking offences, as Brierley had, should be carefully assessed before being allowed to drive again.

She said: 'It is quite simple for anyone to say this after what happened with Claire, but in the same way people are told not to take drugs or do stupid things, there will always be a percentage of people who think 'it can not happen to me'.

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'If you have a history of alcohol abuse and have been before magistrates, then I think flags should be waving and bells start ringing – there is something wrong here.'

Norfolk coroner William Armstrong, who regularly deals with drink-drive deaths at Norwich coroner's court, said the government should look at changing the legal drink-drive limit.

He said: 'It is clear that even just a small amount [of alcohol] can impair a person's ability to drive. The safe and sensible option is the zero option. Drinking and driving is reckless and irresponsible behaviour. There is no excuse for it. There is still a hard core minority of people who insist on doing it and they are not all youngsters by any means.

'It is here where I experience, on an all too regular basis, the trauma and anguish. I see the victims of this behaviour. It makes a very great impression on me, talking to people who have lost their loved ones.'

The figures released to the EDP under the Freedom of Information Act show drivers from the ages of 16 to 81 were caught last year.

The highest reading was in Breckland where a driver took to the road with 331 milligrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood – the limit is 80 mg.

Although drivers from all age groups are being stopped, there were more older than younger drivers amongst the figures.

Roads policing inspector David Ball said: 'It may be that your older generation don't think they are as likely to be stopped.

'It surprises me as a resident of Norfolk that there are 755 people who have been caught. You have to think of the risk that you put yourself under.'

But he added there had been a reduction in drink-driving in the last decade. 'We are after drink-drivers seven days a week, 24 hours a day, every day of the year,' he said.

And Insp Ball called on people who knew about people drink driving to call the police.

He said motorists were risking their lives, families, jobs and relationships by drinking and driving.

And Alec Byrne, chairman of the Joint Casualty Reduction Partnership, said the number of people drink- driving in Norfolk had been falling for a long time but they would continue to target drink-drivers.

'I am happy the way things are going but it is not going to happen quickly,' he said. 'I am encouraged by all our casualty reduction work.

'Norfolk leads the way in most things on casualty reduction but we can and will do more.'

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