Drink and drug driving campaign launched by police

Traffic officers have revealed that anyone caught drink or drug driving in our region will get a free lift this Christmas '“ straight to the doors of a police cell.

Thursday, 6th December 2018, 10:47 am
Roadside drug testing equipment.

The warning comes as Northumbria Police pledge their support to the annual Christmas Drink and Drug Driving Campaign led by the National Police Chief’s Council.

Every year, forces across the country take part in a crackdown on motorists under the influence of drink or drugs in the lead-up to the festive period.

Until the New Year, traffic officers will be carrying out targeted stops across the region where they will be testing drivers for drink and drugs.

Figures show that in the last 50 years, road casualties caused by drink-driving have fallen dramatically.

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However, countrywide an average of 54,099 people are convicted of driving or attempting to drive while over the legal limit every year.

Sergeant Matt Sykes leads Northumbria Police’s Operation Dragoon team who play in important role in educating the public on how to stay safe on the road.

He said: “We support this campaign every year and we do tend to see more people taking a risk by getting behind the wheel after having a drink too many.

“This may be because of the onset of the work Christmas party or because more people are coming home to spend time with their families.

“It may also be that people are getting behind the wheel after a night out and are still over the limit the morning after. This is something everyone needs to be mindful of.

“The reality is that there is no excuse for drink and drug driving. Ultimately, it costs lives and anyone who gets behind the wheel while under the influence is running the risk of causing a serious collision.”

He continued: “We will be out in force this month to act as a deterrent but also to catch anyone who ignores this warning and continues to put lives at risk.

“If you are aware of anyone who is flouting this law then we would encourage you to contact police so we can take action before anyone is killed on the road.”

On average 3,000 people are killed or seriously injured each year in a drink-drive collision.

Combining illegal drugs with alcohol is especially deadly since it has been found that drivers who have consumed both are 23 times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash than sober drivers.

A report published in March 2016 on behalf of the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (PACTS) confirmed that alcohol is the single biggest impairment to drivers.

On March 2, 2015, the drug driving law changed to make it easier for the police to convict drug-drivers. Sixteen legal and illegal drugs are covered by the law including cannabis, cocaine, ecstasy and ketamine.

The limits for all illegal drugs are extremely low – taking even a very small amount of an illegal drug could put drivers over the limit.

If caught and convicted there are severe penalties:

• Minimum driving disqualification of 12 months

• Criminal record

• Up to 6 months in prison

• Fine up to £5000

Sergeant Sykes added: “The legislation around drug driving has been in place for more than three years now and we have been very proactive in putting offenders before the court.

“We have specialist roadside testing kits that can detect whether a person is under the influence of drugs. If you are driving while high then you should expect to be arrested.

“It has been proven that both drink and drugs can impair a person’s ability to drive and we hope that the message of this campaign gets through – it is never acceptable to drink or drug drive.”

More information is available on the government’s website here: http://think.direct.gov.uk/drink-driving.html