Belfast Telegraph

Monday 21 April 2014

Teenager caught in drink-drive push

A 16-year-old was among those stopped in a drink-driving crackdown

A teenager aged 16 was the youngest person to be caught drink-driving in Northern Ireland during the festive season.

Police made 364 arrests despite the bad weather during a winter operation against intoxicated motorists which began in November.

The number of arrests is 50 lower than last year but there were nearly 25% fewer breath tests because of the reduced levels of traffic caused by severe weather.

Police breath-tested 4,357 drivers. The oldest person detected was 73, while there were 317 men and 47 women detected.

A senior officer suggested repeat offenders should have their vehicles removed.

Assistant Chief Constable Duncan McCausland said: "It's astounding that despite some of the worst weather and driving conditions in living memory, 364 people still took the risk of killing or injuring themselves, their family, friends and other innocent road users by deciding to drive after drinking.

"While we welcome the fact that the vast majority of right-thinking people realise that drink-driving is shameful and unacceptable, clearly there is still an irresponsible minority who ignore all advice and warnings."

A consultation carried out by the Environment Department (DoE) in 2009 indicated strong support for lowering the drink-drive limit and strengthening police powers to detect drink-drivers.

The DoE still plans to reduce the limit but it will be 2012 at the earliest before the legislation can be made by the Assembly.

Environment Minister Edwin Poots said he was shocked at the latest figures. He added: "I find it incredible that there are drivers prepared to gamble with their lives and the lives of innocent people by choosing to drink and then get behind the wheel of a car."

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