The results of a four-week crackdown over the festive period show that of 133,136 drivers breath-tested, a total of 9,275 (6.9%) tested positive.
Results of the crackdown – the biggest carried out by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) – come weeks after fleets were warned that new laws allowing pubs to stay open later would trap unwary company car drivers into drink-driving the morning after. (Fleet NewsNet, December 1).
Although ACPO does not reveal what time of the day drivers who were found to be over the limit were caught, it said the results of the crackdown were ‘unacceptable’.
Meredydd Hughes QPM, ACPO lead on road policing and chief constable of South Yorkshire Police, said: ‘If people are confused about the amount of alcohol they can consume before driving, the advice is simple – do not drink at all if you are planning to drive.’
Currently, the legal limit for alcohol in blood is 80mg per 100ml but campaigners are calling for the limit to be lowered to 50mg.
Kevin Clinton, head of road safety at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), said: ‘Cutting the limit would hopefully deter people from risking their licences, even if they were not afraid of risking their lives.
‘If people ignore drink-drive messages when high-profile publicity campaigns are being run, it is frightening to think what they do at other times of the year.’
The number of motorists caught is similar to last year but road safety campaigners had hoped to see a reduction in the figure.
Edmund King, executive director of the RAC Foundation, said: ‘These figures are further proof that the downward trend in drink-drive figures achieved over two decades has now stalled.’
Road safety charity Brake is urging the Government to do more to prevent the problem of drink-driving – and is also calling for more ‘fit-to-drive’ drug tests to be carried out.
Chief executive Mary Williams OBE said: ‘We urge the Government to introduce tougher measures to catch drink-drivers, in particular by giving police the new power to stop and breathalyse and fit test drivers randomly at road blocks or late at night – at present they can only do it if they have reason to suspect drink or drug-driving.’