Motorists are being warned that if they are caught drink or drunk driving they will get a free lift this Christmas – straight to a police station.
Northumbria Police have pledged their support to the annual Christmas Drink and Drug Driving Campaign, led by the National Police Chief’s Council (NPCC).
Traffic officers are carrying out targeted stops across the region where they will be testing drivers for drink and drugs.
The campaign will run into the beginning of the New Year as more people take the risk of getting behind the wheel as they enjoy a drink with friends, families and colleagues around Christmas.
Figures show that in the last 50 years, road casualties caused by drink-driving have fallen dramatically.
However, countrywide an average of 54,099 people are convicted of driving or attempting to drive while over the legal limit every year.
Sergeant Matt Sykes, of Northumbria Police’s Operation Dragoon team, said: “We support this campaign every year and we do tend to see more people taking a risk by getting behind the wheel after having a drink too many.
“This may be because of the onset of the work Christmas party or because more people coming home to spend time with their families.
“It may also be that people are getting behind the wheel after a night out and are still over the limit the morning after. This is something everyone needs to be mindful of.
“The reality is that there is no excuse for drink and drug driving. Ultimately, it costs lives and anyone who gets behind the wheel while under the influence is running the risk of causing a serious collision.
“We will be out in force this month to act as a deterrent but also to catch anyone who ignores this warning and continues to put lives at risk.
“If you are aware of anyone who is flouting this law then we would encourage you to contact police so we can take action before anyone is killed on the road.”
In 2015, the drug driving law changed to include legal and illegal drugs such as cannabis, cocaine, ecstasy and ketamine.
Sergeant Sykes added: “We have been very proactive in putting offenders before the court. We have specialist roadside testing kits that can detect whether a person is under the influence of drugs. If you are driving while high then you should expect to be arrested.
“It has been proven that both drink and drugs can impair a person’s ability to drive and we hope that the message of this campaign gets through – it is never acceptable to drink or drug drive.”