Northumbria Police issues stark warning to drink and drug drivers as Christmas crackdown begins

Anyone caught drink or drug driving this Christmas has been promised a special one-way ticket to the dock in a stark warning from Northumbria Police.

The clampdown on motorists who take to the North East’s roads while under the influence comes as the force pledges its allegiance to a national road safety campaign being run by the National Police chief’s Council (NPCC).

Launching on Wednesday, December 18 and running until New Year’s Day, the national campaign sees traffic officers carry out random stops and test drivers for alcohol and illegal substances, where appropriate.

Nationally, more than 3,000 people are killed or seriously injured in road traffic collisions where alcohol is involved.

Northumbria Police has backed a national road safety campaign.

Figures also reveal that in the last 50 years, road casualties caused by drink-driving have fallen dramatically – but across the country an average of 54,099 people are convicted of driving or attempting to drive while over the legal limit every year.

Know the risks

Sergeant Phil Emmerson, of Northumbria Police’s road policing Operation Dragoon team, is backing the campaign.

He said: “We support this campaign every year as we do tend to see more people taking risks and getting into their cars after having a few too many to drink at a Christmas party or family get-together.

“We know this is a sociable time of year and we understand that people need to travel to visit friends and family but we want to make sure everyone understands the consequences of their actions.

“If you get behind the wheel the morning after a heavy night out, chances are you’ll still be over the limit and you need to be mindful of this as well.

“There is no excuse for drink and drug driving and we want to make sure everyone knows the serious risks involved.

“We will be out in full 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.”

‘It is never acceptable to drink or drug drive’

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.

In March 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 six months in prison

• Fine up to £5000

Sgt Emmerson added: “The legislation around drug driving has been in place for more than four years now.

“Be aware that we have specialist roadside testing kits which can detect whether a person is under the influence of drugs so if you are driving while high 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.”