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.