Members of the public are being urged to enjoy the festive season safely and not gamble with peoples’ lives, as Suffolk Police launch their annual Christmas campaign highlighting the dangers of drink and drug driving.
The campaign runs throughout December and continues until Friday 1st January, in conjunction with a UK-wide operation led by the National Police Chiefs’ Council. It will see officers carrying-out roadside checks throughout the day and night, including early morning checks, as well as intelligence-led enforcement activity.
The aim is to target irresponsible and dangerous drivers and also to protect other road users from the harm caused by those drink or drug driving. Driving whilst under the influence of drink or drugs is one of the ‘Fatal Four’ offences, which makes you more likely to be involved in either a serious or fatal collision.
During last year’s campaign in Suffolk, 562 breath tests were carried out with 67 drivers providing positive readings. Of the 82 drug tests conducted, 76 drivers failed. In addition, 10 people failed to provide a specimen and 17 people were arrested for being unfit to drive through drink and drugs.
Whilst officers continue to detect and prosecute these offences throughout the year during ‘business as usual’, recent research published by Drinkaware shows that some people have significantly increased their alcohol consumption at home during the lockdown.
The message this year is therefore to remind those celebrating at home, that no matter what the setting, drink driving will not be tolerated and those who get behind the wheel and put themselves and others at risk will face the full force of the law.
Members of the public are also encouraged to provide information about potential offenders to help officers identify who they are, so they can take appropriate action and prevent such collisions from occurring.
Anyone charged and bailed for drink-driving in Suffolk will appear at the next available remand court and so this effectively means that offenders could lose their driving licence within 24 hours of being breathalysed, whilst facing additional fines.
T/Chief Inspector Jon Chapman, Head of the Joint Roads and Armed Policing Team, said: “This has been a very difficult and challenging year for everyone, with little opportunity to get together with loved ones or celebrate special occasions. With that in mind, we are more than aware that many people will be desperate for some respite over the Christmas period and the chance to share a drink with friends and family – wherever the Covid-19 regulations allow.
“We want people to be able to enjoy themselves, but to do so sensibly and without risking the lives of others. There is no room for people to think that just because it’s Christmas, or that 2020 has been a year to forget, that getting behind the wheel of a vehicle under the influence of drink or drugs is any more acceptable than it would usually be.
“Our message is consistent – it is not acceptable any year, or at any time of the year – drink and drug driving kills and we urge friends and relatives not to tolerate or condone their loved ones taking this unnecessary risk.
“It is also worth remembering that every year we often catch people driving over the limit the morning after a night of drinking. You need time for the effects of alcohol to wear off, so the advice to anyone who has to drive early the next morning is not to drink at all.
“Please don’t gamble with peoples’ lives for the sake of a drink and do not let anyone you know do so either – the same applies if you know someone has used drugs. The chances of being caught, put in a police cell and losing your driving licence and your job is high, as is the risk of destroying a life and causing death or serious injury – it is just not worth it.”
Suffolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Tim Passmore, said: “This has been a difficult year for everyone and I can’t believe that anyone would consider making matters even worse and risk ending up behind bars for Christmas. Sadly, there will be some road users who despite all the warnings, will be found driving with excess alcohol or drugs in their system.
“It amazes me that despite the obvious dangers, too many motorists still take to the road under the influence of alcohol or drugs. I hope all drivers will heed the warning and consider, not only the danger they put themselves and other road-users in, but also the implications if they get caught. It really is not worth it.
“All drivers need to understand that drink/drug driving risks lives and the lives of others. It is grossly irresponsible and selfish and I hope this year we will finally see a change in attitude as drivers appreciate they don’t want to make 2020 any worse than it already is.”
Anyone with information about suspected drink or drug driving should contact Suffolk Police, by either emailing their local Safer Neighbourhood Team - the details of which can be found on the website here - or by calling 101.
In case of an emergency, or if you believe a crime is in progress, always dial 999.
Alternatively, contact the charity Crimestoppers 100% anonymously on 0800 555 111