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Licensed premises ‘should give customers free soft drinks’

Licensed premises could stop people drink-driving if they give designated drivers free soft drinks, a restaurateur has stated.

According to Mark Duckett, owner of 13 in Hull, customers have often told him that soft drinks are just as expensive as alcoholic beverages.

As a result, he has started allowing the designated driver in a group of people to have free soft drinks and has suggested other establishments do the same.

Speaking to the Hull Daily Mail, he commented: “It isn’t as if venues will lose a lot of money from doing it – especially if there are other people in the group drinking alcohol.

“But for the price of a pint of Coke or a glass of lemonade, we’ll be helping to improve road safety and save the designated driver a few quid.”

Mr Duckett noted that everybody knows they should not drink and drive and has seen all the advertisements and road safety posters pushing this message.

However, he argued that this approach could have a “real impact” and encourage more people to heed the official warnings.

Furthermore, he insisted that giving away soft drinks for free would assure designated drivers they can still have a good time on a night out without consuming alcohol.

Stephen Meara-Blount, an anti-drink-drive campaigner, said Mr Duckett’s suggestion is an “excellent idea” in theory, but suggested it might be challenging to get one person in every group to avoid drinking.

He stated that the best rule to follow is for people to leave the car at home if they intend to go out.

Mr Meara-Blount, whose brother was killed by a speeding drink-driver seven years ago, said the idea might work on those who rarely drink anyway. However, he pointed out there may be others who are “tempted to have just the one”.

Nevertheless, he insisted he is in favour of anything that encourages road safety, adding he hopes Mr Duckett’s policy delivers positive results.

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