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Grieving wife backs drink and drug drive campaign

A grieving woman who lost her husband in tragic motorcycle collision is backing Dorset Police’s summer drink and drug drive campaign.

Suzanne Birt, 40, of Poole, is urging motorists to think whether they could still be over the limit the morning after drinking.

Her husband Michael, 41, was overtaking a line of traffic on his Yamaha 125 motorbike when he clipped a van causing him to veer across the road into the path of an oncoming 26-tonne lorry.

The collision happened at 7.45am on Tuesday 22 October 2013 on Gravel Hill, near to the junction with Queen Anne Drive in Poole.

Michael, a delivery driver and finisher, was on his way to work at the time. He died a short time later.

An inquest this month heard Michael was twice over the drink drive limit when the collision happened.

Suzanne said: “Michael was a fun loving, hardworking and dedicated family man. He would never have ridden his bike that morning knowingly over the limit. He had some drinks the night before but it would not have crossed his mind that he still had alcohol in his system.

“I am urging everyone just to take a minute to think before they get in their car or on their bike whether they still may be over the limit the next morning.

“Please take care because it simply is not worth it. Michael unwittingly paid the ultimate price that morning. We are all devastated he is not with us anymore. His passing has left a huge hole in so many people’s lives which can never be filled.”

Michael lived with Suzanne and their 10-year-old daughter Katie. He was also a devoted father to his two sons – Luke, aged 21, and Josh, aged 20.

He loved spending time with his family, including his mother Anne Robinson, father Peter Birt, sister Trina Birt and brothers Jamie, Martin and Bobby.

Suzanne said: “Family was the most important thing to Michael and weekends were always ’family time’. He enjoyed spending quality time with them all. He took his role of father and providing for his family very seriously.

“Nothing will ever bring Michael back but I hope my message and Dorset Police’s summer drink and drug drive campaign will make people stop and think and prevent this from happening to another innocent family.”

This year’s annual campaign will run from Sunday 1 June 2014 until Thursday 31 July 2014 and has been extended for the first time to include the FIFA World Cup.

Anyone charged with a drink or drug driving-related offence during the campaign will have their name and court appearance details released to the media. Custody images of those convicted could also be released to the media.

Inspector Matt Butler, from Dorset Police’s Traffic Unit, said: “Michael’s tragic death should act as a warning to all motorists.

“There will be some well-intentioned drivers who think they are obeying the law but are in fact breaking it by getting into their cars the morning after a night of drinking.

“Drivers need to be aware that regardless of the time of day they are caught, whether they are going to work or taking children to school, they will face the same penalties as someone who has chosen to drink heavily in a pub and driven at night.

“I would like to extend this warning to any football fan who will be drinking late into the evening while watching the World Cup. The next morning please ask yourself: am I fit to drive? If the answer is no, I urge you to make alternative travel arrangements.”

Dorset Police will be stepping up patrols and roadside checks during the drink and drug drive campaign.

If someone is caught drink driving they will face a minimum 12-month driving ban, a criminal record, up to six months in prison and a fine of up to £5,000.

Dorset Police will be taking to Twitter to remind motorists of the drink and drug drive campaign and to inform the public how many drivers have been charged each day. Follow @dorsetpolice and look out for #DPSummerDrinkDrive.

Issued: 29 May 2014

Michael Birt