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WATCH video of drink-driver caught on M23 more than three times over legal limit

Police have released a video to highlight the dangers of drink-driving.

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The dash cam footage shows a van driver – who was more than three times the legal limit – driving almost entirely on the hard shoulder of the M23 southbound. He was also witnessed veering from side to side on several occasions before being stopped by officers.

The Citroen Despatch was reported by a member of the public, who saw it being driven erratically on the motorway, near Crawley, on the evening of Tuesday 25 June.

Police located the vehicle and detained the driver shortly afterwards. He was identified as Konrad Krzywonos, 39, a plumber, of Comptons Court, Horsham.

After failing a roadside breath test, the suspect was arrested and charged with driving with 124mcg of alcohol per 100ml of breath in his system. The legal limit is 35mcg.

At Crawley Magistrates’ Court on 24 July, Krzywonos was sentenced to eight weeks’ imprisonment, suspended for 12 months, and disqualified from driving for 30 months. He was also ordered to pay £85 costs and a £90 victim surcharge.

Sergeant Vicki Rees, of the Sussex Roads Policing Unit, said:

“The manner of driving evidenced in this video falls far below the expected standard of a competent driver.

“By getting behind the wheel while over the drink-drive limit, Krzywonos has taken a significant risk – not only did he pose a real risk to himself that day, he also posed a risk to all other road users.

“Drink and drug-driving is hugely irresponsible, and unfortunately we see all too often how it destroys lives on roads in Sussex – and elsewhere in the UK.

“Our main priorities are to keep people safe on our roads and to crack down on offenders, and anyone caught committing such offences will be dealt with robustly.

“I’d like to thank the member of the public who brought this defendant to our attention, and I’d continue to encourage anyone who suspects someone to be driving under the influence of drink or drugs to report it to us.”

Krzywonos was among 83 people arrested as part of Surrey Police and Sussex Police’s summer crackdown on drink and drug-drivers, which ran from 24 June to 7 July.

Of these, 29 have so far been convicted in court; the remaining have either been charged, released under investigation or released without charge.

If you’re prepared to drive under the influence of drink or drugs, prepare to face the consequences. These could include the following:

  • A minimum 12 month ban;
  • An unlimited fine;
  • A possible prison sentence;
  • A criminal record, which could affect your current and future employment;
  • An increase in your car insurance;
  • Trouble travelling to countries such as the USA.

People in Sussex can text officers on 65999 with the details of people they suspect of drink or drug-driving, or visit the Operation Crackdown website. 

You can also contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or report it online.

If you know someone is driving while over the limit or after taking drugs, call 999.

Community

Southern Rail joins train companies extending free train travel for survivors of domestic abuse

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Govia Thameslink Railway is supporting an extended nationwide initiative to help domestic abuse victims reach refuge accommodation by offering free train travel.

Govia Thameslink Railway’s Chief Operating Officer Steve White said:

“With the numbers of survivors of domestic abuse soaring during the pandemic, charities are expecting a surge in people trying to escape to a refuge when lockdown restrictions relax. Abusers frequently withhold money, which is why the free train travel we offer as an industry is so vitally important for the hundreds of victims making use of this scheme.”

Southern Rail and its parent company Govia Thameslink are joining other train companies in extending free train travel for survivors of domestic abuse until the end of March next year.

The move comes as figures show four survivors a day, on average, have been using the scheme and reports show that abuse has worsened during coronavirus restrictions.  

Charities are bracing themselves for a surge in people fleeing abusive relationships when restrictions are lifted. The extension will help hundreds more people to take the train, for free, to reach a safe refuge.  

Rail to refuge is a joint initiative between rail companies and Women’s Aid in which train operators cover the cost of train tickets for women, men and children travelling to refuge accommodation. Since April, train operators have provided free tickets to 836 people, including 210 children. In other words, four survivors have travelled to safety each day on average using the Rail to refuge scheme. 

First introduced by Southeastern in September 2019 and then GWR on its routes in March 2020, all train operators joined the Rail to refuge scheme on 9 April with the original plan to keep it in place for approximately 12 weeks or for the duration of lockdown.  

However, with refuges expecting a spike in demand after the current national restrictions are eased, the scheme is now being extended for the rest of the financial year until the end of March 2021. This means hundreds more survivors will access free travel. 

The number of survivors of domestic abuse asking for help has soared during the pandemic. Women’s Aid reported a 41% increase in users visiting its instant messaging Live Chat site within the first two weeks of lockdown in March and as a result extended its opening hours to 10am – 4pm daily. Respect, which runs the Men’s Advice Line, has increased service hours from 46 to 75 hours weekly to support male victims, after seeing a huge increase in demand since March. 

Refuges expect to see the increase in demand across their services continue in the coming months as domestic abuse is worsening and abusers are using the pandemic as a tool for abuse. A recent Women’s Aid survey shows 61% of survivors living with their abuser reported that abuse worsened from March – June 2020, under tighter coronavirus restrictions.  

Many survivors have experienced years of economic abuse, which restricts their practical ability to escape. Free travel can be a lifeline for people fleeing abuse who may not have access to cash. Two-thirds (63%) of people that booked a journey through Rail to refuge said they would not have travelled if the journey had not been paid for. 

Nicki Norman, acting Chief Executive of Women’s Aid said: 

Women face huge barriers in leaving an abuser. Notonly is it an extremely dangerous time, but many survivors have experienced years of economic abuse, which restricts their practical ability to escape. Women tell us that they simply cannot afford to leave because the perpetrator has controlled their money and they have none of their own. Many women and children escape to a refuge with nothing at all.  

Thanks to the rail industry removing the financial barriers of travel, hundreds of women have left abusive relationships and been able to access safety. It is welcome news that this important initiative is being extended, especially as the COVID 19 pandemic continues to severely impact survivors of domestic abuse.” 

Jacqueline Starr, Chief Operating Officer at the Rail Delivery Group, said: 

“We’re proud to have provided a vital lifeline for almost a thousand people escaping a desperate situation, but there are still too many women, men and children that need help. Our staff are working hard to support the survivors of domestic abuse with free train journeys while keeping the railway running for all the people, communities and local economies that rely on it.” 

Survivors of domestic abuse who would like to access the scheme, or need other support, can get in touch with Women’s Aid through their Live Chat service, open Monday – Friday, 10:00am – 4:00pm, Saturday and Sunday 10:00am – 12:00pm: https://chat.womensaid.org.uk 

If you would like to contribute to help survivors access the lifesaving support they need and help them reach refuge, please make a donation today: www.womensaid.org.uk/rail-to-refuge (link goes live on 23 November 2020, 00.01).

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