Northern Ireland

PSNI random checkpoint breath tests catch 241 drivers

drink driving

More than 200 motorists have been caught drink-driving in Northern Ireland since the PSNI introduced random breath tests at vehicle checkpoints, police have said.

The initiative began last month in an attempt to crack down on drink-driving.

Previously, police needed reasonable suspicion before asking a driver to take a breath test.

The new legislation was passed through the Assembly in April, but this is the first time it has been used by police.

Police said the introduction of random breath tests meant the number of people detected in the first three weeks of their winter drink-driving campaign had risen by 1.7%, compared to the same period in 2015.

During last year's Christmas crackdown, almost 400 people were caught drink-driving by police in Northern Ireland.

Ch Insp Diane Pennington said police had authorised 667 checkpoints since their winter drink-driving campaign launched on 24 November.

'Shameful'

"Thankfully it would appear that many people are heeding our warnings as there has been a noticeable decline in the second and third weeks, despite the increase in preliminary tests being carried out," she said.

She added, however, that it was "difficult" to accept the figures as a success.

"We shouldn't be detecting anyone drink driving," she said.

"It's disappointing that despite our warnings, there are still people who completely disregard the safety of themselves and others by continuing this shameful and incredibly dangerous practice."

Police said they will also be working with officers from the Gardai (Irish police) traffic department in border counties over the Christmas period.

"If everyone slowed down, did not drive after drinking or taking drugs, wore a seatbelt and drove with greater care and attention then, together, we can reduce this preventable carnage on our roads," added Ch Insp Pennington.

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