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Northamptonshire Police today (Monday, November 21) launches its annual drink and drug campaign, and the message remains the same to anyone tempted to get behind the wheel under the influence – you will get caught.
Officers from across the Force will be taking part in the widespread crackdown to target those who choose to drink or take drugs and drive in a bid to keep our communities and roads safer over the next six weeks.
Traditionally held during the festive period, this year’s operation has started two weeks early to coincide with the start of the FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar, and will conclude on Monday, January 2.
For the first time in its history, the tournament is being held in the winter, with matches being played throughout what is usually a traditionally busy time for the licensing trade with people getting together for festive celebrations.
Although officers carry out breath tests throughout the year, over the next six weeks, more people are expected to be out celebrating the festivities or watching the football in licensed premises, at home or visiting family and friends.
With the increased risk to roads users getting behind the wheel under the influence of drink or drugs, additional patrols will be held across the county along with proactive operations and roadside checks.
Activities will be held at different times, including early morning operations, when people may be driving after consuming alcohol or taking drugs the previous night and may not realise that they are still over the limit and their driving impaired.
During last year’s campaign, 83 motorists were charged with driving while over the alcohol limit and 13 arrested for failing a roadside drug test. This compared to 47 and 16 respectively for the same period in 2020 – although this was held with Covid-19 guidance still in place.
The main aim of the campaign is to educate road users on the consequences of driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs however, anyone found to be over the limit will face the full force of the law.
However, as in previous years, drivers charged with drink or drug driving during the six-week campaign will once again be publicly named on the Northamptonshire Police website and its social media accounts.
Inspector Ian Wills of Northamptonshire Police Roads Policing Team said: “Working alongside our Northamptonshire Safer Roads Alliance partners, our focus continues to be to reduce the number of people who are killed or seriously injured on our roads.
“It is not our intention to stop people from having fun, our intention is to try and ensure that everyone gets home safely, and no one receives that terrible knock on the door to tell them the devastating news that someone they love has been killed or seriously injured.
“It only takes a few seconds to have a collision which can change your life or the life of an innocent bystander and their family. How would you feel knowing that your actions caused a collision and brought devastation to an entire family?
“It’s not possible to say how much alcohol you can drink and stay below the limit as the way alcohol affects you depends on various factors, and 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.
“If you’re 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.
“While most of us know how dangerous it is to take the risk of driving under the influence and though we share this message every year, I guarantee there’ll be some who still choose to ignore it. Please don’t be one of these drivers.
“We don’t take the decision to continue to name all drivers charged with drink or drug driving lightly, however anyone who doesn’t want to be included on this list the message is simple – do not drink or drug drive.”
Drivers who cause a death while driving under the influence of drink or drugs faces up to 14 years’ imprisonment. If they’re fortunate not to be involved in a collision, if caught, they risk up to six months in prison, an unlimited fine and a substantial driving ban.
However, The Institute of Advanced Motorists calculate that a drink or drug drive conviction could cost up to £70,000 because of fines, solicitors fees, increase in the cost of car insurance and losing a job.
To report suspected drink or drug driving in confidence, call the Drivewatch Hotline on 0800 174615 or dial 101. In an emergency, call 999.