As part of the Operation Tonic drink and drug driving campaign this June1, officers are asking the public to look out for friends or family who may be driving over the limit.
During the Christmas campaign across Avon and Somerset, almost a fifth of people arrested for drink driving were experiencing depression, poor mental health or substance abuse problems2.
Chief Inspector Kevan Rowlands, force lead for Road Safety, said: “The arrests we made in December weren’t the ‘Christmas party people’ we were expecting and many people we arrested had substance abuse issues.
“That’s why we’re asking friends or family of people who might be using alcohol or drugs as a way to cope with a hard time, and are at risk of driving whilst under the influence of alcohol or drugs, to talk to them about the risks: from the life-changing impact of being caught, to the potential for serious injury or death.
“If this approach doesn’t work and you are concerned about someone driving under the influence and causing danger to themselves and others, please tell us before someone is seriously injured or killed.
“If someone is driving drunk now, call us on 999. To give intelligence about someone you are concerned about, you can report via our website or anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”
Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens said: "Over the summer, many of us will be having fun, hosting gatherings and socialising with family and friends. Driving under the influence of drink or drugs is not only a crime, it is socially and morally unacceptable and can have devastating consequences.
"The police are committed to keeping our roads safe for all who use them and you can help them by speaking with your loved ones about the risks and consequences of drink and drug driving. I believe the majority of law-abiding people support the police in doing all we can to bring offenders to justice, keeping the roads of Avon and Somerset safe all year round."
Operation Tonic is a bi-annual campaign that sees high visibility and covert patrols targeting drink and drug drivers. As part of this month’s operation we have dedicated intelligence staff working on drink and drug drivers, and have trained a team from our Special Constabulary in drug detection wipes.
These activities compliment a leafleting campaign in pub car parks, letting drivers know that officers are nearby. To help reach family and friends of people with substance abuse issues, the force is also promoting this video on Facebook:
For advice about substance abuse please contact:
1 The first arrest for disqualified driving by a regular drink driver happened just three hours after the launch of the operation on Thursday 1st June 2017, following a positive breath test.
2 During December’s Operation Tonic, 184 people were arrested and of these, 117 people were charged. Out of those who were charged 20 were noted as having mental health issues of some kind on their risk assessment.