UK

Thousands of under-18s caught drink-driving, records show

Police officer holds a breathalyser Image copyright PA
Image caption Figures reveal the extent of underage drink driving in the UK

Thousands of under-18s have been caught drink-driving, police records show.

Records released by 43 UK police forces in response to a Freedom of Information request show 6,558 people aged under 18 were caught driving under the influence of alcohol between 2008 and 2013.

The figures, obtained by in-car camera provider Nextbase, found the youngest offender was aged 11, in the Thames Valley in 2011.

The government said drink-driving laws were being strengthened.

The records show that an average of five under-18s were caught drink-driving each week. Some of those under 18 were driving without insurance and a quarter were 16 or younger.

A Department for Transport spokesman said: "Under-age driving is illegal and no person under the age of 17 should be driving a car. We have tough laws in place to tackle those caught driving without a licence.

"Drink-driving is a menace that costs lives, and the government is strengthening the law to help police crack down on this problem."

Hotspots

The total number of under-age drink-driver incidents has fallen slightly year-on-year - Merseyside and Devon and Cornwall saw the greatest fall between 2012 and 2013.

However, a number of areas including North Yorkshire, West Mercia and Staffordshire saw an increase between 2012 and 2013.

The records showed the most severely affected region for under-age drink driving in England was Greater Manchester, where 409 people were arrested, including a number of 12-year-olds.

Other hotspots included Scotland, with 718 offenders, Hampshire (276 offenders), Devon and Cornwall (241) and Sussex (160).

Breakdown of figures by force
Force Arrests of under-18s 2008-13 Arrests of under-16s 2008-13 Youngest offender & year of offence
Greater Manchester 409 144 12 yrs old 2008
West Midlands 131 20 14 yrs old 2010
Thames Valley 159 38 11 yrs old 2011
Sussex 160 46 14 yrs old 2012
Hampshire 276 74 14 yrs old 2008, 2009 and 2011
Kent 96 17 15 yrs old 2011
Staffordshire 31 10 13 yrs old 2010
West Mercia 75 22 15 yrs old 2008
City of London 1 0 17 yrs old 2010
North Wales 149 21 14 yrs old 2008 and 2009
Cleveland (2013 only) 4 0 17 yrs old 2013
Metropolitan Police (2013 only) 26 5 16 yrs old 2013
Derbyshire (2012 and 2013 only) 28 6 15 yrs old 2012
Police Scotland 718 208 12 yrs old 2012
Merseyside 86 22 14 yrs old 2010
South Yorkshire 75 16 14 yrs old 2013
Northumbria 99 21 14 yrs old 2010
Cumbria 91 31 14 yrs old 2009 and 2011
Devon and Cornwall 241 53 15 yrs old 2011
Norfolk 68 17 14 yrs old 2011
North Yorkshire 104 29 15 yrs old 2013
West Yorkshire 165 40 14 yrs old 2010 and 2011
Suffolk 69 14 15 yrs old 2010 and 2011
Surrey 59 10 16 yrs old 08,09,10 and 12
Cambridgeshire 37 12 15 yrs old 09, 10 and 11
Gloucestershire 44 8 15 yrs old 2013
Hertfordshire 83 23 14 yrs old 2008
Lancashire (2010-13) 94 32 13 yrs old 2010
Leicestershire 84 28 15 yrs old 09, 10,12 and 13
Lincolnshire (2010-13) 41 13 15 yrs old 2010 and 2013
Northamptonshire 65 12 15 yrs old 2008
Nottinghamshire 139 36 14 yrs old 2009 and 2012
Avon and Somerset 130 31 13 yrs old 08,10, 11 and 12
Warwickshire 21 4 16 yrs old 2009
Northern Ireland 412 131 15 yrs old 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 12
Gwent 75 19 15 yrs old 2008, 2009 and 2013
South Wales 219 59 13 yrs old 2010
Dyfed-Powys 50 15 15 yrs old 2008 and 2013
Bedfordshire 69 11 15 yrs old 2011
Cheshire 136 35 14 yrs old 2009
Durham 296 72 14 yrs old 2009
Humberside 72 24 15 yrs old 09, 10 and 11
Wiltshire 53 19 14 yrs old 2010

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