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Would you report a drink driver?

Two police forces are offering up to £1,000 to people who report suspected drink drivers this Christmas. Is this the right approach?

Glass of alcohol with car keys 

Would you call the police if you suspected someone was about to drive while over the limit - and would a reward of up to £1,000 make you more likely to ring 999?

Two police forces certainly hope this is the case.

Both Derbyshire Constabulary and West Midlands Police are promoting cash rewards during December for anyone who helps them arrest drivers who have had too much to drink.

'Shop a drink driver' campaign

Posters have been put up in pubs and clubs in the two counties to encourage revellers to tell the authorities if they think a fellow drinker is planning to drive after a few too many.

The campaigns are highlighting the fact that the charity Crimestoppers will pay as much as £1,000 for information from the public that leads to an arrest and charge.

Inspector Greg Jennings, head of West Midlands Police's seasonal drink drive campaign, said: "Every year it is the same story.

"People seem to think that it is acceptable to have a few with their family or friends and then get behind the wheel.

Drink drivers 'selfish individuals'

"So now, via the charity Crimestoppers, we are asking anyone who is aware of people breaking the law to phone and report selfish individuals who think it's okay to drink and drive."

A spokesman for Crimestoppers says the amount an informer will receive depends on how helpful their information is to the police as well as how serious the crime is.

But motoring lawyer Jeanette Miller, senior partner at Geoffrey Miller Solicitors, says that driver education should be the authorities' priority.

Educate drivers over drinking dangers

"Rather than throwing money at arresting motorists, I think it would be far more logical and beneficial to invest in educating them," says Miller.

"In my view, while creative, offering a reward is a short-sighted measure intended to grab headlines rather than solve the real issue.

"Many motorists are simply unaware of how alcohol interacts with the system and the process of elimination of alcohol from the body.

"A significant proportion of my clients believed they were under the limit when they chose to drive."

The cost of a drink driving conviction

Christmas and New Year is when police and the government focus their greatest efforts on dealing with drink driving due to the high number of social events during this period.

The Department for Transport's (DfT) new campaign focuses on the potential consequences that convicted drink drivers could face if they lost their licences.

As well as a conviction, points on your licence and a fine, falling foul of the law while driving could also add hundreds of pounds to your car insurance premiums.

What's more, up to 1 million people could lose their jobs as the result of a ban, according to the DfT. And a criminal record could also affect future employability.

Public can report drink drivers on Twitter

Sussex Police uses social networking site Twitter to ask members of the public to report suspected drink drivers.

Spokesman James Glover says: "People can also text us details such as the name of the suspect as well as the car registration, make and model.

"We then pass this on to cameras and officers in the area.

"But if you are sitting in a pub and you see someone you know has had too much to drink get in their car, you should dial 999."

Sussex Police name & shame drink drivers online

Sussex Police has also courted controversy with a new policy to name online anyone arrested on suspicion of drink driving.

Glover says: "At first the public reaction was mixed: some people said it was illegal - although we make it clear these people haven't been convicted yet.

"But as the weeks have gone on, opinion seems to be with us."

Would you help a 'drunk' into his car?

The police running the campaigns in Derbyshire and the West Midlands clearly hope that the public recognise the dangers of drink driving and feel obliged to report their suspicions. carried out an experiment last year, in which an apparently drunk man asked a number of passers-by for help getting into his car.

How many people do you think helped him?

What do you think?

Would you report a drink driver? Do you think cash rewards for reporting drink drivers are a good idea?

We want to hear from you! You can share your views on our message board below.

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Chris Torney

Chris Torney

Chris is the former personal finance editor at the Daily Express. He's been a journalist for more than 10 years and contributes to a wide range of finance and business titles.Read more from Chris