Merseyside Police have confirmed the number of people arrested for drink and drug driving offences over the festive period has risen compared with the previous year.
During the Christmas drink and drug driving campaign which ran from December 1, 2018 until January 1, 2019, officers carried out a total of 3,212 breath tests and arrested 322 people for drink or drug driving-related offences.
The campaign saw a 5% increase in the number of arrests for drink driving and a 28% increase in the number of arrests for drug driving, compared with 2017.
The total number of drink drive arrests made this year was 132, with an increase from 125 in 2017. The total number of drug drive arrests was 190, an increase from 136 in 2017.
This is the fourth Christmas drink and drug drive campaign since legislation was introduced in March 2015 to make it easier for police to tackle drug drivers.
The law made it illegal to drive with certain drugs above specified blood levels in the body whether driving is impaired or not. These limits are set at very low levels for eight illegal drugs, including cannabis and cocaine, and eight medicinal drugs that have been set at a higher limit.
Merseyside Police have been using roadside testing kits to trace drugs in drivers. If the test result is positive, the driver may be arrested without the need for the officer to prove that the driver was impaired and a blood or urine sample is taken.
The amount of people arrested has risen steadily over the past few years and it’s easier for officers to detect this type of crime, leading to a rise in the number of detections.
During the campaign, officers have also been handing out single-use breathalysers to drivers and with hotels to encourage people to test themselves and consider the potential consequences of driving the morning after a night of drinking. 11% of drink driving arrests during the campaign occurred between the hours of 6am and 12pm.
The results of the campaign also presented a 4% fail rate for breath tests compared with 2.5% in 2017.
In terms of gender and age 72% of ‘drink drivers’ were male with 93% of ‘drug drivers’ being male. The average age of ‘drink drivers’ was 40 years of age and the average age of ‘drug drivers’ was 34 years of age.
Paul Mountford, from the Safer Roads Unit said: “It is incredibly disappointing to again see that the amount of people drink and drug driving has increased compared with the same period in 2017. While they represent a small minority of drivers, the potential danger they present, not just to themselves but to other road users and pedestrians cannot be ignored and should be taken extremely seriously.
"We are vigilant in tackling drink and drug driving throughout the year, not just over the festive period and I would like to remind road users that any driver involved in a road traffic collision, or who commits a traffic offence, can expect to be breathalysed and may have to complete an impairment test.
“I cannot stress enough that your ability to drive can be affected by even a modest amount of alcohol. Even if you are below the legal limit, alcohol still affects your judgement, placing you, your passengers and other road users at risk. Alcohol can remain in your system for many hours and you may still be over the limit or not fit to drive the following day.
“While the majority of road users listen to our messages and drive safely and responsibly, it is worrying to see a significant rise in those drug driving. I would like to let those individuals know that the current drug driving legislation makes the process of prosecuting drug drivers much simpler and our rates of prosecution are high.
"Think for a minute about the effects a drink or drug driving conviction will have on you and your family, the shame and ruin that it can bring. Do not think that you won’t get caught. Our officers conduct roadsides tests morning, afternoon and evening and we arrest countless drivers every month throughout the year. Don’t chance it – if you’re driving, it’s better to have none for the road."