Northamptonshire Police launches annual drink and drug driving campaign
Main article content
The festive period may be a bit different this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, however the message remains the same to those tempted to get behind the wheel under the influence of drink or drugs – you will get caught!
Northamptonshire Police launches its annual Christmas campaign today (Tuesday, December 1), to target those who choose to drink or take drugs and drive in a bid to keep the roads safer over the festive period.
Officers carry out breath tests throughout the year, however with more people out celebrating over Christmas and New Year, increased patrols will be held across the county.
These will also include early morning patrols, when people may be driving after consuming alcohol or taken drugs the previous night and may not realise that they are still over the limit.
Information published by the road safety charity Brake shows even when someone is only just over the legal limit they are still six times more likely to be involved in a fatal collision than someone who has drunk nothing.
Officers from across the Force will be stopping anyone suspected of drink or drug driving during the month-long campaign, and anyone found to be over the limit will face the full force of the law.
Chair of the Northamptonshire Safer Roads Alliance (NSRA), Superintendent Tom Thompson said: “This year has been incredibly difficult for everyone, and we all want to enjoy the festive season with loved ones – possibly even more this year than in others.
“With the restrictions around the opening of the night-time economy still in place, more of us will be celebrating the festivities within the home environment, where there could be the temptation to drink more alcohol than usual.
“It is certainly not our intention to stop anyone from celebrating during the festive period, but it remains a reality that drink or drug driving can, and does, kill and there is absolutely no excuse or circumstances that could ever justify it.”
Last December, officers conducted 2552 breath tests which is an increase of 66 per cent on 2018, when 1798 were carried out. While the number of roadside drug wipes rose by 90 per cent from 20 to 38 respectively.
The rise in the number of roadside checks was a direct result of increased patrols and the various operations held across the Force throughout the festive period to tackle drink and drug driving offending over the festive period.
A total of 84 motorists were caught behind the wheel while under the influence of drink or drugs. Sixty-seven were charged with drink driving, and 17 were arrested for failing a roadside drug test, pending the results of blood tests.
PC Dave Lee from Northamptonshire Police’s Safer Roads Team, said: “As a police officer on the roads, I have seen the devastating effects drink and drug driving can have. It only takes one second to have a collision which can change your life or the life of an innocent bystander and their family.
“The risks of getting behind the wheel, not just on the night when you have been drinking, but also the morning after, could be fatal. How would you feel knowing that your actions caused a collision and devastation to an entire family?
“Sleeping it off or having a large cup of coffee will not clear the body of alcohol or dull its effects. The only thing which can sober you up is time, however it’s safest not to drink at all if you are driving early the next day.
“If you are out and know you will be drinking, make sure you have plans for getting home safely without driving. If you do have to drive, our advice is to avoid alcohol completely. The only safe limit is none.
“The chances of being caught, put in a police cell and losing your driving licence and possibly, your job, is high. More importantly, the risk of destroying a life and causing death or serious injury is also incredibly high.”
Drivers risk up to six months’ imprisonment, an unlimited fine and a substantial driving ban if caught driving while above the legal limit. Anyone who causes a death while drink or drug driving faces up to 14 years’ imprisonment.
To report suspected drink or drug driving in confidence, call the Drivewatch Hotline on 0800 174615 or dial 101. In an emergency, call 999.
The drink and drug drive initiative is being held as part of the Force’s Operation Journey campaign, which aims to improve road safety and reduce the number of people who are killed or seriously injured on the county’s roads.