Scotland's Christmas drink-drive warning by woman left paralysed in horror crash

Niki Smith broke her neck in a car crash while being driven by a drink-driver Credit: Smarts Agency

A woman left paralysed after accepting a lift from someone who, unknown to her had consumed alcohol, has spoken of the devastating impact of drink-driving.

Niki Smith was severely injured in a road accident in 1997 and has now shared her experience to remind drivers that drink-driving can have catastrophic consequences.

The 48-year-old is backing the annual Christmas drink-drive and drug-drive campaign launched by Police Scotland - just as a similar festive campaign begins in Cumbria, backed by Cumbria Police.

Think before you get behind the wheel of a car after drinking Credit: PA

Ms Smith who has to use a wheelchair, said it was a Friday night and she had been out with her sister.

“We accepted a lift from someone we knew, although we had no idea he’d been drinking. It was a small decision that changed my life irreversibly.

“It must have been heart-breaking for my family and partner to be told I’d broken my neck and was paralysed. 

“My sister, who was in the car with me, broke her collarbone and was later diagnosed with PTSD. I’m glad it was me, as I would have struggled to accept her having my injury."

  • Sgt Bob McNay, Police Scotland, tells ITV Border: 'The message is simple - don't risk it'

In the last two months, 1,852 roadside drug tests have been carried out across Scotland, resulting in 395 positive tests. On average, specialist road officers encounter 40-50 motorists a week who have taken drugs. 

Drivers who provide a positive roadside drug test are arrested and taken to a police station where a blood sample is obtained and sent for further analysis. 

In the same time period, 600 drivers were arrested for drink driving related offences.

Chief Superintendent Louise Blakelock, Police Scotland’s head of road policing said: “We continue to see motorists put others at considerable risk by driving under the influence of alcohol or after taking drugs, despite repeated warnings about the dangers of drink or drug driving.”

The festive campaign to discourage drink and drug-driving has been launched

Drivers risk up to six months’ imprisonment, an unlimited fine and a substantial driving ban if they are caught driving while above the legal limit. Anyone who causes a death while drink or drug driving faces up to 14 years’ imprisonment.

The campaign backed by Ms Smith - from Aberdeenshire - in Scotland coincides with a similar offensive in Cumbria.

Mobile Support Group Sergeant Callum Young, who is leading this year’s operation, said: “There is no excuse for drink or drug driving. If you fail the alcohol or drug testing, you will face the consequences.

“Our officers in Cumbria are better equipped to catch those who are unfit through drugs – be it illegal or legal prescription drugs."

And Cumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Peter McCall, said" “Drink and drug driving is a selfish act that not only places the life of the perpetrator at risk but also the lives of innocent road users, passengers and pedestrians."