The annual Summer Drink and Drug Drive campaign is underway and Merseyside Police is appealing to people to continue to drive responsibly this summer.
During last year’s campaign Merseyside Police arrested 206 motorists in June and July.
Of the 206 people, 97 were arrested for drink drive offences such as failing a breath test or refusing to give one, and 109 drivers tested positive for drugs such as cannabis or cocaine.
Of those arrested for drink drive offences 85% were male and 15% female with 67% in the 25-49 age range. For those stopped for drug driving offences 95% were male and 5% female and 70% were in the 25-49 age range. The majority of people were stopped between 11pm and 3am (42%) with 29% stopped on a Sunday.
So far, this year across Merseyside, from 1 January to the end of April 2018, a total of 529 people were arrested for drug driving, with 423 arrested for drink driving.
Inspector Keith Kellett said: “As you can see from the figures, we now have more drug driving offences than drink driving offences. Also, if you have taken drugs then you drink alcohol it massively increases the effects on your body making it even more dangerous to get behind the wheel. I would urge anyone thinking of taking such risks to stop and think about the consequences.
“We will continue to stop drivers, be it in the morning, afternoon or evening and carry out breath tests. My message is simple – enjoy a drink but do not take the car. The risks are enormous and simply not worth it.
“Alcohol can remain in your system for many hours and you may still be over the limit the next day. If you are driving the following day, leaving it 12 hours before getting behind the wheel is advisable.
“Anyone caught drink driving faces a twelve month driving ban and a fine of up to £5000. There is also the risk of losing their job and the added pain to their families.
“I’d like to remind drivers 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.”
Since the introduction of the drug driving offence in March 2015, it is now an offence to drive whilst over the specified limit, set for 17 drugs including cannabis and cocaine. Last year, 80% of drivers arrested for being unfit through drugs had used these two drugs. The list of drugs also includes those found in some medicines.
Paul Mountford, the Force Lead for drink and drug driving in Merseyside said “ Merseyside Police will be conducting numerous roadside operations and breath and drug testing hundreds of drivers across Merseyside throughout this campaign to ensure that drivers understand the principles of this campaign – that the only safe drink drive limit is zero.
Many drivers are unaware that even a small amount of alcohol may affect their driving ability, placing themselves at an increased risk of a crash and arrest. They may be arrested for ‘drink driving’ even if they pass a breathalyser if the officer considers them to be unfit. This is particularly relevant the following day when many will not consider their driving fitness after a night’s sleep.
“We will not tolerate those drivers who take illegal drugs and drive, placing themselves and other road users at risk. Our 2018 arrest figures speak for themselves – our officers are excellent at detecting ‘drug drivers’. Through increased roadside drug testing, we aim to not only detect these drivers but to deter them from getting behind the wheel”
Inspector Kellett added: “We will continue to carry out roadside impairment tests on drivers suspected to be impaired by drugs. However, we can additionally test drivers at the roadside using hand held and portable drug testing equipment and arrest if the result is positive. The simple presence of the drug may be sufficient to leave someone facing a driving ban and a significant fine.
“Those people who take prescribed medicines and who follow the instructions on the packaging or from their doctor needn’t worry and should continue to take their medicines. However, they should be aware that exceeding the dosage can have a significant effect on their driving, placing themselves and others in danger and also at risk of arrest. Only those who abuse their dosage need be concerned. Anyone in any doubt should speak to their doctor.”
If you know or suspect someone is driving whilst under the influence of alcohol or drugs, then please contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.