Police fear stay-at-home boozing will fuel number of Christmas drink-drivers

Annual campaign launched with warning "get behind the wheel over the limit, and you WILL get caught"

By Kevin Nicholls
Wednesday, 2nd December 2020, 10:11 am
Updated Wednesday, 2nd December 2020, 10:14 am

Northamptonshire Police launched their Christmas drink-driving campaign with a warning — if you get behind the wheel under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you WILL get caught!

Traffic cops fear restrictions on the night-time economy could tempt people to drink more at home in the build-up to Christmas.

Extra patrols will be out across the county with a special eye on morning-after-the-night-before drivers who may not realise they are still over the limit.

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Last year's campaign saw 2,552 breath tests — a 66 per cent increase on 2018 — and a whopping 90 per cent spike in drug wipes resulting in 84 motorists caught behind the wheel while under the influence of drink or drugs.

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.

PC Dave Lee from Northamptonshire Safer Roads Team, said: “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.

Northamptonshire Police launched their Christmas drink-drive campaign with a stern warning for morning-after drivers

“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.”

“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?

Officers carried out more than 2,500 breath tests and drug wipes during December 2019

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 risk up to six months’ in jail, unlimited fines and substantial driving bans.

Anyone who causes a death while drink or drug driving faces up to 14 years’ imprisonment.

Northamptonshire Safer Roads Alliance chair, 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.

"There is absolutely no excuse or circumstances that could ever justify it.”

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.