Our reporter’s experience as part of anti drink-driving campaign

Lauren in the cells.

Lauren in the cells. - Credit: Archant

Cambridgeshire Police is midway through its annual anti-drink driving campaign and invited reporter Lauren Nash to go through the sobering experience of what would happen if she was caught drink driving.

Sitting in a cell at Huntingdon Police Station, with a motto on the wall urging me to wipe my slate clean, I understood the true gravity of what it would mean to be a drink driver.

The room was starkly bare with nothing but a bench – which doubles as a bed - and a foul-smelling toilet in the corner.

Surrounded by the thick stone walls, when the heavy door was locked behind me, there was nothing to do but to contemplate my crime.

A flap in the door was my only contact with the outside world – although fortunately, in my case, waiting just the other side of the door was PC Steve Gedny.

The scenario was that I had been spotted driving erratically on the Ring Road. PC Gedny had followed me and pulled me over just outside Huntingdon Police Station on suspicion of being under the influence of alcohol.

As he approached the car, I have to admit that I felt some trepidation – despite having had nothing to drink that morning but a cup of tea and a glass of orange juice.

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I wound down the window and was asked if I had been drinking that morning or the night before.

When I answered ‘no’, he asked me to blow into a breathalyser as he said he could smell alcohol on my breath.

Unluckily for me, the breath test told a different story.

I was asked to step out of the car and to put my hands behind my back, with my palms facing outwards. The metal cuffs rubbed on my wrists and my arms ached from being in such a strange position.

I felt the full shame of my actions, as by this point a small group of men were looking on.

Flanked by PC Gedny, I was escorted to the custody suite where I was booked in at the desk by custody sergeant Tom Farrell.

Listening to the account of what I had done, for a moment I almost believed that I really had committed a crime.

I was then taken to the room next door for another breath test. I was told that if my reading was below 50 microgrammes per 100 millilitres of breath, I would have the opportunity to provide a blood or urine sample.

However, as my reading was 70 microgrammes per 100 millilitres of breath – twice the drink-drive limit - I was charged and taken to the cells.

Firstly, I was led back to the desk at the custody suite where the custody sergeant was informed of the result. I had to remove my shoes, and if I had any jewellery or anything with which I could harm myself, this would be confiscated.

PC Gedny told me that at twice the drink-drive limit, I would certainly lose my licence for at least a year when I appeared in court.

If I had been involved in an accident and had killed someone, I could be facing a maximum of 14 years in prison for causing death by dangerous driving.

As I walked back to my car after spending just a fraction of time in the role of a drink-driver, I thought this is something that everyone should experience once in their life. Having seen the realities of what it means to be a drink driver, I’m sure they would think twice before drinking and getting behind the wheel.

Info for side panel: So far, from December 1 – December 10 28 people have been arrested across the county for drink-driving.