Northern Ireland

Drink-driving: Police note trend of lunch drinking before driving to pick up kids

A man drinks a pint of beer while his car keys sit on a bar top Image copyright PA
Image caption Christmas drink driving statistics showed the highest rate of detections in a decade

People drinking at lunchtime and then driving to collect children from school has been called "shocking on so many levels" by a senior police officer.

Assistant Chief Constable Alan Todd said it was part of a trend seen in drink-driving detections in December.

"It's that disregard for the safety of themselves and others that lies at the heart of our concern," he said.

The trend, he said, had been noted during the police's Christmas campaign across NI and would be examined.

'We'll be doing analysis'

ACC Todd said they were seeing a trend in which people had been drinking over lunchtime with friends, family, or colleagues.

"We are seeing some indications of trends of people socialising with friends, family colleagues, at lunchtime, because we are making detections in the early afternoon, including cases where people have been out for lunch, consumed alcohol, and then proceeded to pick up their children from school, which is shocking on so many levels," ACC Todd told BBC's Good Morning Ulster programme.

"It's that disregard for the safety of themselves and others that lies at the heart of our concern."

Image caption Assistant Chief Constable Alan Todd said a rise in drink-driving detections was down to a increased testing

He said they would be doing further analysis.

"From talking to officers across the province involved in the operation, we are seeing more of that."

Highest point for a decade

It comes after drink-driving figures over the Christmas period showed the highest number of detections in Northern Ireland in a decade.

Mr Todd said the rise was down to increased testing.

Noting there had been 3,000 detections across 2019, he said the figure was "shameful".

The youngest person detected was aged 14, while another person was over four and a half times the drink-drive limit.

During the Christmas period, arrests were made at all times of the day, including a number with high readings during and just after lunchtime.

The oldest person detected was aged 83. Males accounted for the majority of detections - 314 (79.1%).

Between 28 November 2019 and 1 January 2020, 418 drink and drug drivers were arrested.

That was the highest level of detections since the 2008/09 operation and was 30% higher than in 2018/19.

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