The charity Brake has welcomed police efforts to catch drunk and drug drivers over the Christmas period, but warns that more must be done by Government to stamp out this deadly menace.
Overall, 7,100 people were arrested in the month-long police Christmas and New Year campaign targeting drink and drug drivers, up 16% from the same period last year, according to Association of Chief Police Officer figures released today.
Police used intelligence to focus on known routes favoured by drink and drug drivers and act on information from the public, enabling an increase in arrests despite breath tests being down by 8% compared to 2010.
The number of Field Impairment Tests for drug driving increased by a third (36%), with 17% of these resulting in arrest.
Brake praises police for their work to tackle drink and drug driving in the face of severe budget cuts.
However, it is urging the government to make it easier to catch drink and drug drivers, and enable a greater deterrent against this deadly behaviour, by:
• introducing roadside drug testing devices and creating a new offence making it illegal to drive with illegal drugs in your body, removing the need to prove impairment
• giving police powers for random breath-testing, to enable far more tests to be carried out through targeted, high profile campaigns
• making roads policing a national policing priority, to send a clear directive that this vital frontline policing should be given great investment and priority
Ellen Booth, Brake senior campaigns officer, said: “As a charity that supports families devastated by road death and injury, we see the appalling suffering that results from drink and drug driving.
"Brake commends the police for their continuing hard work protecting the public from those who flout drink and drug driving laws, but we need to see action by government to stamp out these needless tragedies.
"Brake is calling for roadside drug testing devices and a new offence of driving with illegal drugs in your system.
"We also need greater priority given to roads policing by government, to ensure drivers are made clear that they can’t and won’t get away with taking these abhorrent and selfish risks.
"Our message to drivers is clear – no amount of alcohol or illegal drugs is safe to drive on – not a drop, not a drag.”
ACPO lead for Roads Policing DCC Suzette Davenport said: “Driving under the influence of any substance, whether it is alcohol or drugs, is unacceptable.
"Alcohol and drugs can affect your ability to judge speed and distances, reduce concentration and delay reaction speed. Worst of all it can kill, and that’s a life sentence no-one would want to live with.
“There is no safe limit on drinking alcohol. The only way to ensure that you are driving safely, is to not drink alcohol at all. Even just the one drink can significantly impair your judgement and for that reason I recommend drivers don’t drink alcohol and drive.”