Northumbria Police warns public not to drink or drug-drive this Christmas

Draeger drug testing kit.
Draeger drug testing kit.

As the festive season gets into full swing, police officers are urging the public not to get behind the wheel while under the influence.

Last year, Northumbria Police's Op Dragoon team arrested 146 people following a positive breathalyser test on the roadside.

The drug testing kit.

The drug testing kit.

And now, the force has issued a warning to people not to spend Christmas on a high, as it is the first winter under new drug-driving laws.

New legislation was introduced this year which sets a legal limit for the amount of drugs acceptable in the blood stream. Loopholes allowing offenders to request urine or blood tests were also closed with the legislation's introduction.

Extra officers will be out on the roads - and motorists will see extra attention on those under the influence of drugs. warning people not to find themselves on too big a high this Christmas as they prepare for the first winter under the new drug driving laws.

Acting Motor Patrols Chief Inspector Dave Little said: "This Christmas we are equipped with new drug driving legislation to help tackle those who think they can get away with taking illegal substances before they get behind the wheel.

"Driving while under the influence of either drink or drugs could lead to an innocent person being killed on our roads and I find it baffling that people continue to take that risk.

"We are committed to doing all we can to make sure the roads are safe for everyone this Christmas and our message to motorists is to not take the risk.

"This month we will be using information from our communities to target those suspected of drink driving so we can stop them before there are any serious consequences from their thoughtless actions.

"For this campaign to work we need the public's help and we need people to tell us who the drink and drug drivers are so we can take action. Reporting these people could help to save lives and make a real difference out on the roads."

Officers on the Op Dragoon team will be armed with drug testing kits to catch those getting behind the wheel when under the influence of illegal substances.

Intelligence-led patrols, in conjunction with Neighbourhood Policing Teams, will be targeting specific suspects identified in the community. New testing kits will allow officers to set up testing stations on the roadside.

These readings will be accurate enough to be used as evidence in court.

Acting Chief Inspector Little added: "The two drug testing kits donated to us by Draeger are further tools that will help us clean up our roads and we want to extend a thank you to them for their generosity.

"We have been one of the best forces in the country in tackling drug drivers since the legislation was introduced in March this year and we plan to continue the good work.

"Everyone looks forward to the festive period which is traditionally about people getting together and celebrating the festive season with friends, family and work colleagues.

"But people think they can have a couple of drinks and still get behind the wheel - that is just not the case. We really want to stress that even a small amount of alcohol could still push you over the limit."

The penalties for drug-driving are a minimum of a one year ban, a fine of up to £5000, the possibility of a prison sentence and a conviction which will stay on your driving licence for 11 years.

Anyone who suspects someone of drink or drug driving should contact police on 101 ext 69191 or 999 in an emergency.