Drivers are being reminded of the dangers and consequences of getting behind the wheel after drinking or taking drugs as the festive season begins.
From today, December 1, Northamptonshire Police is taking part in a month-long campaign which aims to reduce drink and drug drive offences to keep all road users safer.
Officers carry out breath tests throughout the year, but with more people out celebrating over Christmas and New Year, increased patrols and checks will be carried out. These will include early morning operations, when people may be driving after consuming alcohol the previous night.
Superintendent Emily Vernon, who is overseeing the campaign, said: “We are committed to increasing road safety in Northamptonshire. Our campaign this month will continue to raise awareness of the dangers of drink or drug driving, and we always seek strong penalties for all those found to be offending.
“A conviction for drink driving could mean a prison sentence, a driving ban, and an unlimited fine. More importantly, someone who chooses to drive under the influence is risking not only their own life, but those of innocent road users. Could you live with yourself if you caused a fatal collision? It is simply not worth the risk.
“Every year we share this message, and every year there are people reckless and selfish enough to ignore it – please don’t be one of them.”
Between October 2016 and September 2017 there were 702 arrests for drink driving in the county, including 59 people arrested during the December 2016 drink/drug drive campaign.
Details of those charged with drink or drug driving offences during this year’s campaign will be shared with the media by the force.
Supt Vernon said: “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.
“If you’ve been drinking, you may still be over the limit the following morning, so if you need to get somewhere make alternative travel arrangements so you don’t have to drive.”
The most recent drink/drug driving operation in June this year saw 548 breath tests administered in Northamptonshire, of which 96 were positive, failed or refused.
Men accounted for two-thirds of those tested, and the majority of drivers (467) were aged 25 or over. Two out of three people tested for drugs provided a positive, failed or refused result.
Throughout the festive period officers will also be sharing advice on personal safety, including the importance of always using licenced taxis, staying with friends when out and ensuring everyone gets home safely. Hate crime leaflets will also be handed out and discussed with licensed taxi drivers.
In 2016, 322 people were seriously injured or killed on the county’s roads, including 26 in December.
To report suspected drink or drug driving in confidence, call the Drivewatch Hotline on 0800 174615 or dial 101. In an emergency, call 999.