Wales

Welsh motorists 'finally getting' drink-drive message

A man taking a breath test - generic Image copyright PA

Motorists in Wales are "finally getting the message" about drink-driving as the number of people who failed or refused breath tests fell to its lowest levels.

Latest Home Office figures showed 4,800 people were caught in 2015.

It is the third straight fall from a 2012 high of 7,900 and the first time in 14 years of records that the figure was below 5,000.

Road safety charity Brake called for the drink-drive limit to be reduced further.

Brake spokeswoman Lucy Amos said: "These statistics appear to show that people are finally getting the message that they cannot get away with drinking any amount of alcohol before getting behind their wheel.

"However, despite the fall in drivers testing positive or refusing a breath test on Wales' road there is still more work to be done.

"With traffic police numbers on the decline, it's leaving those who enforce the law with very little resources to catch those who do break the law."

Between 2002 and 2012, the average number of people failing tests was 6,520.

  • South Wales Police had the highest number of failures in 2015 with 1,800 but the figure has fallen steadily from 3,000 more than 10 years ago
  • North Wales Police caught 1,700 in 2015, a generally steady figure since 2002 except in 2012 when 3,800 people were picked up
  • Dyfed-Powys Police registered 1,000 offenders, on par with previous years
  • Gwent Police figures of 400 is half of what it was in 2012 and two-thirds lower than in the eight years up to 2009

Insp David Cust, from North Wales Police, said he believed the fall in numbers was down to a more targeted approach.

He said: "We are using our intelligence and information from the public to look at our patrols and put them in the right areas at the right time.

"The drink drive message is getting across and the figures are encouraging, however, we can't be complacent as the drug [driving] figures are going up."

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Media caption'Drink-driving is down but drug-driving in north Wales is up'

Gwent Police Ch Insp Huw Jones said he was pleased the figures were falling.

"This shows that drivers are thinking before driving under the influence. Drink and drug driving ruins lives all year round, and our efforts to combat it continue throughout the year," he added.

A Dyfed-Powys Police spokeswoman said: "We're not resting on our laurels and we will continue to enforce drink driving all year round with heightened activity during our two major campaigns in the summer and winter."

The other two Welsh police forces have been asked to comment.

For a breath test in England and Wales, the limit is 35 micrograms of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath, while in Scotland it is 22.

Ms Amos believes the rest of the UK should follow suit.

"Drink driving is still one of the biggest killers on our roads and while we welcome these reductions, Brake is calling on the UK government to bring England and Wales into line with Scotland's lower drink-drive limit," she added.

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