Motorists are being urged to think again before they get behind the wheel and drive after drinking or taking drugs this festive season.
Throughout December, Northumbria Police is enforcing a month-long Christmas drink and drug driving initiative to support road safety and campaigns by the organisation THINK! as well as the NPCC (National Police Chiefs’ Council) commitment to significantly decrease the risk of drink and drug driving offences.
In the last 50 years, road casualties caused by drink-driving have fallen dramatically.
However, countrywide an average of 54,099 people are convicted of driving or attempting to drive while over the legal limit every year.
On average 3,000 people are killed or seriously injured each year in a drink-drive collision.
Officers say that 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.
Superintendent Sarah Pitt, head of operations for Northumbria Police, said: “Driving offences are always something we take extremely seriously as the consequences can be so severe.
"This campaign is targeted at those who think they are still OK to drive after consuming alcohol or taking drugs.
"Those people are putting their own, and other, lives at risk and we’re committed to putting a stop to that.”
On March 2, 2015, the drug driving law changed to make it easier for the police to convict drug-drivers.
A total of 16 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
Superintendent Pitt added: “The aim of this campaign is to urge motorists to think before they drink, take drugs and get behind the wheel.
"Our officers will robustly enforce the law in relation to drink and drug driving to ensure our roads are kept safe this Christmas.
“Motorists are to be mindful in relation to knowing what they have consumed, and even though it may have been the night before when they had a drink, the next morning they could well still be over the limit and their driving and reactions are impaired.
“The bottom line here is that you actions can cause death or serious injury of others or yourself.
"Drink and drug-driving is not worth the risk.”
More information is available on the government’s website at http://think.direct.gov.uk/drink-driving.html