Avon & Somerset Police made 245 arrests during the largest operation carried out in recent years as part of December’s National Police Chiefs’ Council Winter Drink and Drug Driving Operation.
One in three fatal collisions on the roads of Avon and Somerset in the last year have involved drink or drugs as a contributory factor.
Of the December arrests, 221 were drink related offences and 39 related to drug use.
A further 12 people were arrested for drink or drug-driving on New Year’s Day – nine of these between midnight and 4.30am with 11 arrests relating to drink and four to drugs.
The 25 to 34-year-old age group accounted for almost a third (82) of arrests, followed by 25 to 44-year-olds (62 arrests). Under 25s accounted for 47 arrests.
Officers stopped and educated more than 2,000 drivers about drink/drug driving in 55 roadside stop checks across the month, the locations of which were based on information received from the public. As a result, 13 people provided positive breath tests and four positive drug wipes were obtained. A further 69 other road-related offences were also detected.
Patrols were carried out by roads policing, response and neighbourhood officers with police efforts supported by the public, who submitted numerous reports of people drink/driving by telephone and via the Avon & Somerset Police website. The public were also able to report concerns anonymously via Crimestoppers. Each report received immediate response or informed patrols.
Superintendent Paul Underhill, the force’s lead for road safety, said: “Drink and drug- driving takes lives and devastates families. The repercussions and trauma last for years. That’s why our work to take drink and drug drivers off the road doesn’t stop in January. It remains a priority that we will continue to target every day of the year, with officers making on average 200 arrests a month for these offences.
“It is appalling that despite all the warnings some people selfishly choose to drink or drug-drive, putting themselves and others at huge risk on the roads. In the last year alone, our officers had to visit the next of kin of 12 people who are never going to come home again because of a collision in which drink or drugs was a factor.
“We thank the public for their support in letting us know where they suspect or know drink or drug-driving is happening – together we are keeping the roads of Avon and Somerset safer.”
Drivers risk up to six months’ imprisonment, an unlimited fine and a substantial driving ban if they are caught driving while above the legal limit. Anyone who causes a death while drink or drug-driving faces up to 14 years’ imprisonment.
Police and Crime Commissioner Mark Shelford said: “A massive well done to officers involved in this operation during the festive season; it is shocking that a number of individuals thought it was acceptable to get in the driver’s seat while under the influence of drink or drugs.
“I know officers will continue to target those who are reckless and selfish enough to drink and drive. As I have said before, I urge motorists to take personal responsibility for never getting behind the wheel when under the influence of drink or drugs and, if you do, there is a high chance of being caught of Avon & Somerset Police. It’s not worth the risk.”
The December figures exceed the 191 arrests of December 2020 and 221 arrests of December 2019 and is the second highest monthly arrest total for drink/drug-driving since January 2018 (the highest being July 2020 when 247 arrests were made). The 39 drug-drive arrests is lower than the 45 recorded in the same period in 2020, but up on the 31 drug arrests of December 2019.
Police continue to ask the public to come forward with information about drink/drug-drivers and report via 101 or online, via Crimestoppers or by calling 999 if the offence is currently happening.
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