POLICE forces across the region have launched campaigns to crack down on drink drivers over the Christmas period.
Officers from the Cleveland and Durham Specialist Operations Unit (CDSOU) will carry out random vehicle stops and intelligence-led enforcement in a bid to remove drink divers from the roads.
And although pubs and restaurants are shut under tier 3 restrictions across Cleveland and Durham, residents are being warned against driving after drinking at home.
Inspector Jamie Bell, from the CDSOU, said: “Whilst pubs and restaurants remain closed at the moment, there will be people who fancy a tipple at home over the festive season, which is absolutely fine as long as they don’t get behind the wheel of a vehicle whilst over the limit.
“People will also need to be mindful of driving the following day; they will need to leave enough time for the alcohol to leave their bodies to ensure that they can safely use the roads.”
According to the Department for Transport, an estimated 8,680 people were killed or injured by drink drivers nationally in 2018.
Inspector Bell added: “Whilst we tackle this issue all year round, it is more likely at Christmas time that people may get behind the wheel after a drink.
“It is extremely frustrating as a roads policing officer that some motorists still choose to drive under the influence of drink or drugs in the knowledge that their actions could kill or seriously injure someone else’s loved one.
“Drink or drug driving is completely unacceptable and preventing this risk on our roads is one of our main priorities.”
Drivers risk up to six months’ imprisonment, an unlimited fine and a substantial driving ban if they are caught driving while above the legal limit. Anyone who causes a death while drink or drug driving faces up to 14 years’ imprisonment.
Drink and drug drivers will be handed a one-way ticket to the dock as police step up enforcement on the roads during the festive period.
Northumbria Police are joining forces across the country in backing a National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) road safety campaign launched today (Tuesday).
The month-long crackdown on those who drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol will see an increase in police on our region’s roads.
It takes place every year in the lead up to Christmas and New Year with police carrying out random stops on the road-side.
And now a top cop has said the enforcement activity will continue amid the pandemic – as the quieter roads have led to even more collisions.
Chief Inspector Sam Rennison said: “We support this campaign every December as figures show there is an increase in drink and drug driving over the festive period.
“We don’t know whether we will see the same level of offending as the restrictions mean people won’t be celebrating Christmas in quite the same way.
“But what we do know is there has been an increase in serious and fatal collisions this year and we have seen higher average speeds on the quieter roads.
“That is why it is so important for us to continue this kind of enforcement and make sure nobody loses their lives at the hands of a drink or drug driver.
“We want everyone to make it home for Christmas and would ask you all to think of the consequences of getting behind the wheel under the influence.
“If you do take that risk then we will have extra officers on the road. We will stop you, we will arrest you and we will put you before the courts.”
Anyone who wants to report a drink driver to police, or has dash-cam footage they want to upload, is encouraged to report it online at the Northumbria Police website.