More than 100 people arrested for drink and drug-driving offences over Christmas

Police latest.
Police latest.

Nearly 150 people were arrested for drink and drug-driving offences during a Christmas clampdown by Northumbria Police.

Officers tested more than 1,500 people, as part of the December campaign by the Force.

This was the first Christmas since the new drug-driving laws were introduced last April and the Force's advice was for members of the public to be 'dry not high'.

To combat drug drivers, officers were given high-tech testing kits to carry out drug swipes on the roadside. Dozens of drivers were tested using this new equipment and more than half of those motorists were found to have an illegal amount of drugs in their system and were reported.

This meant the Christmas campaign was the Force's most successful crackdown on drug drivers since the new legislation was introduced.

In addition to the drug tests, nearly 2,000 people were breathalysed on the roadside after being pulled over across the Force area. The breakdown of figures is as follows:

* A total of 1,665 motorists were breathalysed with more than 100 arrested after being found over the legal limit or failing to comply with officers;

* A total of 539 motorists were breathalysed following a collision, with 17 arrested after they returned positive breath tests;

* Out of the 1,665 drivers breathalysed, 1,320 were aged over 25 and the remaining 345 were aged younger;

* A total of 148 people were arrested throughout the campaign for drink and drug-driving offences.

Motor Patrols Chief Inspector John Heckels said the campaign was a success, but called for local communities to report any suspected offenders to police.

He said: "For this campaign we were equipped with new legislation and state-of-the-art equipment which put us in the best position possible to take drink and drug drivers off our roads.

"Our teams were committed to stopping anybody who took the risk of having a drink when they got behind the wheel and 148 arrests shows that we delivered on our promise to clampdown on offenders.

"For the first Christmas we were also able to arrest a number of people for drug-related offences and are continuing to have their day before the court in the coming weeks and months.

"People need to be aware that they are putting their own life at risk, as well as the lives of the public, by getting behind the wheel once they have had a drink or taken any form of illegal substance.

"I also want to thank all members of the local communities who reported a suspected drink driver to us and allowed us to stop them before they caused an injury to either themselves or the public.

"We will continue to target those who break the law throughout the year and our Operation Dragoon team will have a number of targets they will be monitoring to ensure they don’t get back behind the wheel.

"If you do suspect anyone of drink driving then call the police. Reporting these people could help to save lives and make a real difference out on the roads."

The majority of those motorists who were tested were stopped at checkpoints set up across the Force, but some were identified following a call from a member of the public.

As part of the campaign, Neighbourhood Policing Teams had been liaising with local communities to identify specific suspects in the Force area.

Chief Inspector Heckels added: "Whenever we run this type of campaign we ask for the public to work with us to identify those who are putting lives at risk by driving under the influence.

"We had a positive response again this year and a number of offenders were put before the courts because of intelligence fed to us by our local communities. We all want to make the region a safer place and it is always encouraging to see that the public share our determination to take those who put lives at risk off our roads."

The new drug laws also saw a surge in the number of people caught for drug driving with nearly half of the 1,888 roadside drug screenings coming back as positive. This meant that on a national level there were more people detected in the month of December than in the whole of 2014.

Drink-drive results from forces across the UK also indicated a fall in the number of under 25s being caught driving under the influence, suggesting a drive in education of that age group has been a success.

If charged with a drug-driving offence, the penalties are a minimum of a one-year ban, a fine of up to £5,000, the possibility of a prison sentence and a conviction which will stay on your driving licence for 11 years.

Anyone who suspects someone of drink or drug driving should contact police on 101 ext 69191 or 999 in an emergency.