Alcohol Breath Tests Statistics By Age

Reported breath tests and breath test failures by road user type and age, Great Britain, 2013


As with other Department for Transport statistics, these are presented in summary form (ie for all motor vehicle drivers and riders, by age group) and also further broken down by type of vehicle driven/ridden.


To begin with the summary of these statistics, it is interesting to note that, in Great Britain in 2013, of all motor vehicle drivers and riders, only 1.6% of those involved in accidents failed breath tests, although 53% of those involved in accidents were tested.


This highlights the fact that the probability of a person being involved in a road traffic accident and failing a breath test were statistically very low.


The range between those tested, by age group, is not huge – from 48% (under 17 years) to 64% (17-19 years), which suggests the police were testing people in a fairly consistent way. Also, both ends of this range are within the lower age group, which would support such an interpretation of the figures.


There is, however, much greater disparity when considering the figures for those drivers and riders who failed the breath tests. The lowest figures were 7 people (under 17 years) and 42 people (70 years and over), which indicates that the youngest and oldest motorists were less likely to fail breath tests. At the other end of the spectrum, 785 people in the 20-24 age group failed the test, which is the highest figure for any age range.


It is interesting to note that the figures reduce gradually by age range from this higher reading for the 20-24 age range, down to 327 people for the 35-39 age band, then jumps back up to 611 fail results for the 40-49 year olds. The figures then drop, as before, to the lowest point which is for those 70 years of age and above.


Why there should be a peak in the figures (ie higher fail rate for those motorists in their 40s) is something we can only speculate on, as the statistics do not give this sort of qualitative information.


To briefly compare the fail rates of different types of motorists with regard to these official statistics, the most frequent offenders, by age group, are as follows:-


Car drivers = 20-24 year olds (701 people out of a possible 3,296)

Motorcycle riders = 20-24 year olds (55 out of a possible 234)

All motor vehicle drivers and riders = 20–24 year olds (785 out of a possible 3,727)


Clearly a conclusion can be drawn regarding the probability of a driver in their early 20s failing a breath test, following a road traffic accident, in Great Britain in 2013.


However, to focus on these failures would be only half the story, and misleading at that. Most of the people tested did not fail. A truth which is nowhere near as newsworthy as the highlighting of certain groups of motorists and drawing negative conclusions about them as if they were a homogeneous, and law-averse unit.


If you are being charged with a drink driving offence such as failure to provide a specimen, contact our expert team now for honest legal advice on 01623 600645.


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