It can be nerve-wracking when your newly qualified teen ventures out onto the road by themselves for the first time. But it seems parents’ worry isn’t misplaced, as new data shows that a record number of under-18s are being caught drink driving.
Information released by 43 UK police forces following a Freedom of Information request, showed that 6,558 people aged under 18 were arrested for drink driving after failing roadside breath tests between 2008 and 2013.
The data, which was collated by dash cam supplier Nextbase, showed that the youngest person to be caught intoxicated behind the wheel was an 11-year-old child who was pulled over in the Thames Valley area in 2011. Numerous 12-year-olds have also been caught, both in Scotland and Greater Manchester, the most heavily affected region.
In the five years between 2008 and 2013, an average of five under-18s were caught drink driving each week – a quarter of which were under 16. Some of those caught were also found to be driving without insurance, or had taken the vehicle without the owner’s consent.
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,” the BBC reports.
"Drink-driving is a menace that costs lives, and the government is strengthening the law to help police crack down on this problem."
Overall, the total number of under-age drink drivers is falling, though areas such as West Mercia and Staffordshire have seen increases in recent years.