Thursday, 15 December 2016

Are you sure that's wise, Sir?

The issue of drink-driving always rears its ugly head over the Christmas period, and BBPA chief executive Brigid Simmons has urged pubs to play their part in spreading the message. However, despite her good intentions, it’s hard to see how this can actually be put into effect on the ground.

The comments seem to be aimed mainly at making the point about still being over the limit on the morning after, but I’m sure that pubgoers won’t appreciate being asked whether they’re driving the next day when getting another round in. And the authorities are notoriously reluctant to provide accurate information on alcohol units and “counting back”, which could be genuinely helpful, on the grounds that it might encourage people to “drink up to the limit”.

If the message is extended to attempting to deter potential offenders “in the act” it becomes even more problematical. How are bar staff meant to know how someone has travelled to the pub anyway? And, even if it is pretty obvious that a customer has driven there, it has to be remembered that the law represents a limit, not a prohibition. Being told “be careful you don’t have too many of those, Sir” is likely to cause customers to take their business somewhere else where they won’t be given a patronising lecture.

Any responsible licensee will keep an eye on his customers and, for example, suggest that someone who has drunk well over their normal quota should consider getting a cab home. And, if a customer is routinely jugging it back and driving home, then a polite word in the ear would be appropriate. But it’s hard to see how they can take it further without coming across as intrusive.

And, as ever, pubs seem to be held uniquely to blame for drink-drive offending, when this was never more than part of the story, and is even less so now.

15 comments:

  1. Well you know. Pubs are either responsible and controlled environments or they are not. If they are not then fair enough, but the beards have been arguing they are.

    So if they are they should not flog me enough booze to get me pissed, give me a hangover or get me banned from driving. I should be able to sue them if they are irresponsible enough to let me do any of this.

    They should stop me having more than the government daily limit.

    It's what CAMRA have been asking for, after all.

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  2. The BBPA trying to get in a proactive message before the anti-drink brigade start, but actually shooting their own members in the foot in the process. They'd have been better off saying nowt because they're implying that the on-trade is responsible for drink driving. If they'd thought a bit harder though, they might have evened up the score a bit by suggesting that supermarket customers should also be quizzed if they pitch up at the checkout with a trolley stacked with booze. Something on the lines of 'Watch yourself in the morning if you're driving after necking that lot tonight'.

    Meanwhile, I'm not entirely comfortable with the Christmas Budweiser/Uber campaign - it's like Smith & Wesson backing a safer shooting campaign.

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  3. If someone chooses to drink and drive, that is their choice. It's not up to the pub to check out how they're getting home, although they can refuse service if someone is incapably drunk. Having said this, a bloke used to get into my local on a lunchtime and have either six large glasses of white wine (250ml each = two bottles) or six large vodkas. He would then get in his car. He was warned, took exception and and went to drink in the working mens' club instead. He's dead now, of course.

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  4. And that's as much as a licensee can reasonably be expected to do. Plus the result, predictably, was not reform but taking business elsewhere.

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    1. I strongly suspect that people who drink-drive (over the limit) will do always do so, regardless of what anyone says, because they consider it acceptable.

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  5. Any landlord found to have grassed up one of his regulars to the rozzers would find himself losing most of his trade.

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  6. and if the landlord sells them the booze for fear of losing their regulars, and they end up so sozzled behind the wheel they end up killing someone, is the landlord not then partly to blame ? sure there was a case few years ago where a landlord was held partially responsible for the consequences of what happened to one of their customers after theyd left their bar, because theyd continued to serve them with alcohol when they were clearly already too drunk.

    but maybe its an admission by implication that the way pubs used to operate where landlords/landladies staff generally looked out for their customers wellbeing and made sure people didnt drink to extremes, went home when they needed to, and werent driving when they shouldnt be at all, is no longer as strong a part of running a pub today.

    and its that time of year when alot of people who dont visit pubs regularly, are out and about and finding their limits quickly,

    it was good to see in the pub I was in the other night the landlady was very much people watching and spotting problems before they got too far out of hand and either having quiet words either with associates of the people, or telling them they could stay but they wouldnt be allowed anymore alcohol, and if they left, theyd order a taxi for them. Rather than some pubs at this time of year where its just sell as much booze as you can.

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    1. In the case referred to the landlord had told the customer concerned that his business was not welcome.

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    2. The bloke I was on about was actually told he could have no more than two drinks if he was driving (which he always was). Two 250ml glasses of white would probably put him over the limit, two large vodkas maybe there or thereabouts. But he didn't like that, went off on one and took his business elsewhere. Not a lot else a pub can do is there?

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  7. It's become ever more clear that booze has no more place in a pub than cigarettes. Pubs can still serve soft drinks and mocktails with their meals and those that truly love pubs will continue to support them.

    Smoking was successfully eradicated and if that shows us anything it is that boozing can be also. Those appreciators of fine beer who drink for the taste and not to get drunk will enjoy the new ranges of craft alcohol free beers brewers will have to innovate.

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    1. Jest ye not, CL! It’s only a matter of time before some bright spark amongst our right-on politicians makes that very suggestion and landlords find themselves responsible, not just for overseeing the behaviour of their customers inside their establishments, but for their behaviour outside of it, too. Don’t start giving them ideas!

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  8. It is an offence to sell an alcoholic drink to someone who you know is drunk, or buy an alcoholic drink for someone who you know is drunk, although there is no legal definition of drunkenness. That is the sum total of a licensee's responsibilities in law. Penalties include a fine for the individual of up to £1,000, and the risk of losing a premises licence if the premises are taken to review based on this issue. As far as I know, there is no legal requirement for licensees to involve themselves in what drinkers do after they leave the pub, including how they get home.

    There can be a distinct difference between being drunk and being over the legal limit: three pints take a driver over the limit, but I wouldn't describe such a drinker as drunk. A friend of mine had gradually let his drink-driving slip from being carefully within the limit to considerably over it until a barman in our local refused him service, saying that if there were a fatal accident, he didn't want it on his conscience. My friend hasn't used his car to go to the pub since, and he still goes to the same pub, although I'd have to agree that some habitual drink-drivers would be offended and go elsewhere. Among people I know, I cannot now think of any driver who does go over the limit, which is not something I could have ever said in the past. Since the 1970s when people usually said "bad luck" if a drink-driver lost his licence, social norms have increasingly made driving when over the limit entirely unacceptable.

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  9. I am becoming increasingly convinced that the "authorities" are purveying a lot of misinformation about the drink drive limit. I was stopped an breathalysed recently, one hour after drinking two pints of beer. According to various calculators on the web that should have put me very near the legal limit but in fact I recorded 11m/100m less than one third of the England limit. And in my last couple of years at work I would have five or six pints up to midnight and by eith in the morning be back to zero on my personal breathalyser

    And to say that personal breathalysers encourage you to drink up to the limit makes as much sense as saying that speedometers in cars encourage you to dive at the speed limit

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    1. Indeed, there is a huge amount of conjecture and urban myth around the subject, which I suspect is deliberately encouraged by the authorities. I have always taken the view that, as a bloke of at least average weight, drinking two pints of ordinary strength beer will leave me comfortably below the limit, which is borne out by this official publication.

      In my entire driving career of 39 years and well over 300,000 miles, I have been breathalysed precisely once, when I had consumed two and a half pints of a mixture of mild, ordinary bitter and strong bitter. I was told I was clear and allowed to continue on my way.

      You can't really say that "x amount of drinks will put you over the limit" when the outcome varies so much between different people depending on their body weight and metabolism. The only way you know for certain is when the police pull you over and administer a breath test.

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    2. I think that the real isocy of the breathalyser is that ir doesn't measure how badly you are driving. Yes drinking two pints might reduce your abilty to drive well by ten percent, but from what base line. There are people who terrify me, as a passenger, when they are stone cold sober and other whom I am comfortable and relaxed with when they have had several drinks.

      Personally I wouldn't embark on a long drive after more than a pint, because of the soporific effect. But I would make the short drive home from the pub after two or three.

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