Northern Ireland

Drink-drive detections down on previous Christmas period

A man drinks a pint of beer while his car keys sit on a bar top Image copyright PA
Image caption More than 11,000 people were tested during this year's operation

More than 300 drink-drivers were detected by the PSNI in the run-up to and over Christmas.

The figure was down by more than 10% on the previous year.

The youngest person detected was 14 years old, while the oldest was 83 years old.

According to preliminary figures released on Monday by police, 322 drink drivers were arrested - 38 fewer than in the same period for 2017/18.

The 2018/19 winter anti-drink drive operation ran from 30 November until 1 January.

More than 11,000 people were tested during the operation.

Assistant Chief Constable Alan Todd said one of those drivers was detected at more than four times the drink drive limit, with a reading of 153 mcg of alcohol in 100 ml of breath.

The legal limit is 35 mcg of alcohol in 100 ml of breath.

Image caption ACC Alan Todd said detections were made at all times of the day

Seventy two of the 322 people arrested were women, as compared to 49 out of a total of 360 during the previous campaign.

ACC Todd said detections were made at all times of the day on roads across Northern Ireland and that drivers were also arrested for being under the influence of drugs.

"In one incident, after being involved in a collision, a driver was arrested for driving under the influence of drugs. Approximately £3,000 worth of suspected drugs were recovered from the vehicle, leading to the driver being further arrested on suspicion of a number of drug offences.

'Shameful'

"In another incident, police detected and arrested a HGV driver returning to their place of work, having carried out their morning deliveries.

"It's disappointing that despite our repeated and well publicised warnings, a minority of people completely disregarded the safety of themselves and others by taking the shameful and incredibly dangerous risk of driving after drinking."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption In December, NI Crimestoppers saw a 65% increase in calls with information about drink driving

This year's operation was also supported by the independent charity Crimestoppers, which gave the public the opportunity to provide information about drink drivers anonymously.

Sue Brew, regional manager for Northern Ireland Crimestoppers, said that during December, the organisation saw a 65% increase in calls with information about drink driving, compared to the average over the previous seven months.

"As we said at the outset of this campaign, by trusting us with your information, you'll remain 100% anonymous. Always. We never take personal details and calls cannot be traced. Together we can help protect those you care about."

Checkpoints

ACC Todd added that in the months ahead, police "will continue to use all the powers and legislation at our disposal, including the authorised checkpoints, to detect people who insist on driving after having taken drugs or alcohol".

In December, BBC News NI reported that the PSNI cannot fully enforce tougher drink-driving laws introduced almost three years ago as they do not yet have access to breathalysers capable of testing lower blood alcohol levels introduced by the assembly in April 2016.

However, their equipment is capable of testing the previous Northern Ireland limits, which are in line with those currently enforced in England and Wales.

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