Northern Ireland

Police arrest 396 over drink-driving in Christmas crackdown

A man drinks a pint of beer while his car keys sit on a bar top Image copyright PA
Image caption The PSNI said drinking and driving "kills, maims and wrecks families"

Police have said the number of people caught drink-driving during the annual Christmas crackdown increased significantly on the previous year.

In all, 396 arrests were made between 27 November last year and 2 January, a 42% rise on the 282 in 2014-15.

A police officer was among those arrested, and one person was stopped while their children were in their car.

One driver was four times over the drink-drive limit, while one was caught drink-driving on two occasions.

The overall figure includes motorists who were unfit to drive, or unable or refused to give a sample.

Assistant Chief Constable Alan Todd, of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), said drink-drivers were "disregarding the safety of themselves and others" with "this shameful and incredibly dangerous practice".

Consequences

He said those who had been caught would face losing their driving licence for at least a year, and many risked "losing their jobs or going to jail".

"Every year across Northern Ireland, drinking and driving kills, maims and wrecks families," he said.

"We detected a driver, with their children in the car, at three o'clock in the afternoon having been drinking.

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption More than 320 of those who were caught drink-driving were men

"Think about the consequences to yourself and your family of being involved in a serious collision.

"How would you feel if your actions resulted in you or one of your family being paralysed?

"How would you feel if some innocent person was killed?"

ACC Todd said the police officer who was arrested could expect to face court as well as disciplinary proceedings within the PSNI, where a suspension or sacking was possible.

Unacceptable

Most of those found to be drink-driving were men, a total of 325, while 71 women were caught.

The youngest person detected was 16, and the oldest was 83.

Environment Minister Mark H Durkan said: "Drink-driving has caused over 2,000 deaths and serious injuries since 2000.

"That is the shocking reality of mixing alcohol with driving.

"The signal is clear - it is unacceptable in today's society to drink and drive."

Mr Durkan added that the Road Traffic Amendment Bill, which was passed in the Northern Ireland Assembly this week, will lower drink-drive limits.

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