‘A trip with a drink-driver changed my life, now I’ll never walk again’

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Niki Smith was speaking out to raise awareness of the impact drink-driving can have after being left paralysed in 1997 when she accepted a life home from a drink driver

Niki Smith who was left paralysed after she accepted a lift home from a motorist who, unknown to her, had consumed alcohol
Niki Smith who was left paralysed after she accepted a lift home from a motorist who, unknown to her, had consumed alcohol

A woman left paralysed after she accepted a lift home from a motorist who, unknown to her, had consumed alcohol, has spoken out about the “devastating consequences” of drink-driving.

Niki Smith, 48, from Aberdeenshire, said that “small decision” had changed her life irreversibly. The car she was travelling in was involved in a crash, leaving her needing a wheelchair.

Meanwhile, her sister, with whom she had been enjoying a night out, broke her collarbone in the incident, and later went on to be diagnosed with PTSD.

Ms Smith said she was speaking out to raise awareness of the impact drink-driving can have after being left paralysed in 1997.

She recalled: “It was a Friday evening and my sister and I were having a great night out. I enjoyed letting my hair down in between working as a carer and being a busy mum.

Niki, 48, from Aberdeenshire, said that “small decision” had changed her life irreversibly
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“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.”

She added: “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.”

Since the crash she said she and her family had endured “years of stress, physical pain and frustration” but added that she has “now found ways to enjoy special moments and not just sit at home and dwell on the difficult times”.

Scottish Transport Minister Graeme Dey and Chief Superintendent Louise Blakelock from Police Scotland at the launch of the festive drink and drug-drive crackdown
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“I’ve had to become a more confident person so people see me and not just the wheelchair,” she said.

“If I hadn’t had my kids I don’t think I’d be the person I am today.

“I hope that by sharing my own experience I can help raise awareness of the devastating consequences drink-driving can have on so many lives. I wouldn’t want anyone to go through the same as me and my family.”

Chief Superintendent Louise Blakelock, Police Scotland’s head of road policing, said: “We want everyone to enjoy this festive season for all the right reasons and so we are urging motorists to help us keep the roads safe for all.

“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.

“As we approach the festive season, our officers will be focused on targeting drivers who recklessly put others at risk by driving after consuming alcohol or drugs.

“Driving under the influence reduces reaction times and continues to be a factor in serious and fatal collisions. The fact you could kill or injure yourself or another member of the public should be reason enough not to risk it.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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