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324 drink and drug drivers taken off our roads during December in police operation

Two images side by side, a police officer breathalysing a drink driver, and a breathalyser and drug test kit in front of a police car
Avon and Somerset Police's winter drink and drug driving campaign

We arrested 324 drivers for driving under the influence of drink and/or drugs as part of a national policing operation, aimed at reducing fatal and serious Road Traffic Collisions (RTCs) and protecting other road users, which ran during the month of December.

This was a 10 per cent increase on the number of arrests made during the same period in 2022. Drink driving accounted for 68 per cent of the offences, and drug driving for 32 per cent.

Through a combination of stop check sites, intelligence, public reports, and proactive patrols there were in the region of 2000 drivers stopped during the operation.

Community intelligence also formed a key part of our strategy to target dangerous drivers. Throughout the media campaign, the public were urged to contact us if they suspected an individual was driving while intoxicated, with the message that reports from the public really can help to keep our roads safer for everyone.

One such report was received from a 999 call on Sunday 3 December, after a concerned motorist witnessed a vehicle being driven erratically on the M5 near junction 25. After officers located and stopped the vehicle, the driver was breathalysed, arrested and subsequently charged with driving a motor vehicle when alcohol level was above the legal limit. He appeared in court on Thursday 21 December and received a 20-month disqualification from driving and a £120 fine.

During the winter operation, those aged between 25-34 accounted for 30 per cent of the arrests, followed by those aged 35-44 accounting for 26 per cent of the arrests. These were followed by those aged between 45-54 (17 per cent) and those under 25 (17 per cent). Four in five of those arrested were male (79 per cent).

The Bristol area saw 27 per cent of the arrests, while Somerset West had 24 per cent of the arrests and South Gloucestershire had 16 per cent of the arrests.

Assistant Chief Constable Joanne Hall said,

“Over the festive period, 324 drivers have been taken off the road before they could cause harm through drink or drug driving.

“Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is not only illegal, but also a reckless and dangerous choice that puts lives at risk. The consequences of such decisions can be catastrophic, causing irreversible harm and heartache to families and loved ones.

“I would like to thank the public who are helping us to target those people that they suspect are drink or drug driving. By doing this, you are helping us to reinforce the message that getting behind the wheel while under the influence is never acceptable. Together we are keeping the roads of Avon and Somerset safer.”

“I would also like to acknowledge the hard work of our teams who work tirelessly to keep our roads safe, and will continue to do so throughout the year.”

Police and Crime Commissioner, Mark Shelford, said,

“I applaud the work done by Avon and Somerset Police in removing numerous drink and drug drivers from our roads in this operation. I have seen this first hand when I joined the roads policing unit.

“This collaborative effort, bolstered by community reports, undoubtedly saved lives. The operation reinforces the crucial message that driving under the influence is never acceptable. And that together we can make our roads safer.”

Drivers risk up to six months’ imprisonment, an unlimited fine and a substantial driving ban if they are caught driving while above the legal limit. Causing death by careless driving when under the influence of alcohol carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. For more information, visit https://www.gov.uk/drink-driving-penalties

Information about drink/drug drivers can be reported online at  www.avonandsomerset.police.uk/report or by calling 101 (always 999 in an emergency and if someone is currently driving under the influence of drink or drugs).  Reports can also be made anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

Independent alcohol advice, information, and tools to help people make better choices about their drinking can be found at www.drinkaware.co.uk