Merseyside Police has today (Tuesday, 1 December 2020) launched its annual Christmas drink driving campaign, reminding motorists that drink driving shatters lives.
Officers from the Roads Policing Unit and colleagues across the force will be stepping up patrols throughout the month-long campaign, which runs until Friday, 1 January 2020.
They will be paying particular attention to areas across Merseyside in the evenings and early in the morning, to target those who are risking driving the morning after drinking, but motorists can expect to see officers policing the roads at any time of the day or night.
The campaign, which also runs nationally, aims to reduce the number of deaths and serious injuries on the roads and raise the awareness of the dangers around driving while over the drink drive limit.
During last year’s Christmas campaign 117 arrests were made for drink driving and 150 arrests for drug driving.
Figures released on 15 January 2020, revealed Merseyside Police was the first force in England, Wales and Scotland to record more than 2,000 drug drive arrests in a calendar year. The force recorded a total of 2,201 arrests in 2019, which is an increase of 19% from 1,630 in 2018.
Of those arrests 1,105 were for the use of cannabis, 653 for use of cocaine, 213 for both cannabis and cocaine, and a small number for people who took other drugs or failed to provide a specimen.
Drug driving figures have continued to increase locally and nationally following a change in legislation in March 2015, which makes it easier for the police to catch and convict drug drivers. In 2014, just nine people were arrested per month compared to 168 per month in 2019.
It is now an offence to drive with certain drugs above a specified level in your blood – just as it is with drink driving. Seventeen legal and illegal drugs are covered by the law including cannabis, cocaine, ecstasy and ketamine.
The limits for all illegal drugs are extremely low – taking even a very small amount of an illegal drug could put you over the limit.
Last year, also saw an 8% increase in drink driving arrests recorded in Merseyside in 2019, with 1,383 arrests compared to 1,278 in 2018.
Inspector Carl McNulty, head of Merseyside Police’s Road Policing Unit, said: “In the festive season it can be tempting to think one more drink won’t hurt as people get swept up by the party mood. That drink could take you above the legal drink drive limit and if caught you will face strict penalties.
“You can face up to six months in prison, an unlimited fine and a one-year driving ban. If your job depends on you being able to drive you can expect to potentially lose your job and face all the ramifications associated with losing your income. Once you regain your licence your car insurance costs will increase significantly which could mean you will struggle to make ends meet. You have to ask yourself, is it worth the cost?
“The way alcohol affects you depends on: your weight, age, sex and metabolism, the type and amount of alcohol you’re drinking, what you’ve eaten recently and your stress levels at the time.
“Alcohol and drugs can remain in your system for longer than you think so you could be over the limit when driving to work the next day or with your children on the school run.
“Last December, 267 people risked their lives and those of others by driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs and that is simply not acceptable.
“Drinking or taking drugs and then driving should not be mixed. Instead, leave your car keys at home, take a taxi, use a designated non-drinking driver, public transport or stay overnight. Think of the consequences before drink or drug driving – a crash or conviction can shatter many lives including your own.
“We are also urging people to look after each other this festive season – if your friend, colleague or relation is unfit to drive be that person who takes a stand. Don’t let them get behind the wheel.”
Statistics show that motorists who drive at twice the current legal alcohol level are at least 50 times more likely to be involved in a fatal collision.
Paul Mountford, Casualty Reduction Officer with Merseyside’s Safer Roads Unit, added: “It’s always particularly sad when somebody who would never have dreamed of having a drink and then getting in their car and driving is either arrested or injures somebody the morning after, because they’re actually still over the limit.
“We’ve had incidents of dedicated and parents who have inadvertently drunk-driven their children to school because they didn’t realise the alcohol would stay in their system that long. We don’t want any of that this Christmas. If you’re drinking at night, please, think about the morning after.”