Metro 87

Richard Herring: Being breathalysed could drive you to drink

Friday 25 Oct 2013 

I love this country. We may get a lot of flak for being miserable, unfriendly and incompetent but we are world-beaters in so many areas. Let’s not look at our cock-ups, let’s celebrate our victories.
For example, do you know how old Britain’s youngest ever convicted drink driver was? Twelve! Twelve!! Not just drinking but driving too. And at the same time. Aren’t you proud?
That’s right, a 12-year-old girl was convicted of this crime. It happened a few years ago on Christmas Day. This girl was at home with her parents, feeling a bit bored – we can all appreciate that. Einstein’s first theory of relativity states that time moves more slowly when you spend it with your relatives.
On top of which she lived in Swindon! So she had a couple of drinks, then stole her father’s car keys and attempted to drive to Reading. She must have been drunk. That’s the one place in the world that’s worse than Swindon.
She was driving at 70 miles an hour, down country roads, clipping curb stones but, thank God, the police stopped her before there was an accident.
And I think you have to admire the British police force. They get a bad press but generally they do a brilliant job. They make the occasional mistake but don’t we all? That’s why pencils have erasers on top.
Think about this from their viewpoint. They were presented with this girl: she’s clearly 12, she can barely see over the steering wheel, she’s driving recklessly and endangering lives. She’s presumably uninsured (I think we can presume that).
Yet, in spite of all that, these officers still had the wherewithal to say: ‘You know what? I think we’d better breathalyse her as well. Just in case what we’ve got isn’t quite enough to secure a conviction. I mean she might have been drinking – she is 12, after all!’
And they were right to be so cynical, because that girl was twice the legal drink-drive limit. Though I don’t think that’s fair. Because those limits are set for adults, aren’t they? One drink is going to send a 12-year-old way over.
They’ve got a smaller body mass. That’s why I quite strongly believe there should be a separate drink-drive limit for the under 16s. So they can enjoy a nice Christmas drink before heading out for a Yuletide drive.
When this story broke, the front page of the Mirror said: ‘This anonymous 12-year-old is the youngest ever drink driver in this country. Previously it was a 13-year-old boy. Turn to page nine.’
I was hoping to turn to page nine to find an interview with the boy saying: ‘Well obviously I’m disappointed. I always knew this day would come. I just never thought I’d be beaten by a girl.’ Interestingly, they named the boy but the girl’s name remained secret.
Maybe it’s because once you’re 13 you’re sufficiently mature to be lambasted in a national newspaper or more likely once you lose your title you lose your anonymity.
But the real-life punchline to this story – and you couldn’t make this up… Well, you could make it up, you can make anything up. I just made up a dog with an ant’s face and a dragon’s penis. The point is I haven’t made this up. This is true.
Do you know what this girl’s punishment for this terrible crime was? She was banned from driving for two years. That girl couldn’t get back behind the steering wheel of a car until she was 15. That’s very harsh.
Richard’s show, We’re All Going To Die, is touring nationally until April 2014. For tickets and details, visit