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Big surge in drink-driving in Northern Ireland

Published 15/01/2016

Drivers are continuing to flout the law, warn police
Drivers are continuing to flout the law, warn police

A police officer and a woman collecting children from school were among almost 400 people caught during a crackdown on drink-driving.

One individual was so drunk they could barely stand up while another boozy motorist was apprehended twice in just two months, the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) has revealed.

Some 396 people were detected during the PSNI's annual winter drink-driving campaign - a 40% jump on the 282 last year.

Assistant Chief Constable Alan Todd said the problem was widespread.

"The youngest was 16, the eldest was 83. We have an individual who has been detected on two occasions in the one campaign.

"This happens at all times of the day and all times of the night and in all circumstances.

"It can be anything from somebody going home after a party to a person picking up their children from school in the middle of the afternoon. There is really no stereotype for this."

The annual policing operation ran from November 27 to January 2. The figures include 325 men and 71 women.

The highest recorded reading was 140 micrograms of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath - four times the legal limit.

Most detections were made in Belfast where officers stopped 68 drink-drivers but t here were also significant results in the Newry, Mourne and Down areas where 51 road users were found to be over the legal limit; and in the Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon district where 48 detections were made.

Mr Todd said he was "saddened and frustrated" motorists were continuing to flout the law and i ntends to meet Government ministers to discuss the problem. Police are also expected to step up road safety patrols.

" People haven't heeded the warnings; haven't heeded the message and put themselves and the wider road users at risk as a result," Mr Todd added.

"Some areas are showing increases of 100%, i.e twice as many people caught.

"We are appealing once again, to understand that using the roads is a privilege and with that comes a responsibility both to your own safety and and the safety of other road users."

Drink-driving has caused over 2,000 deaths and serious injuries in Northern Ireland since 2000, according to the Department of the Environment.

Environment Minister Mark H Durkan said: "Given what we know about how dangerous it is to drive after drinking alcohol, it is disappointing that some drivers still choose to drink alcohol and then get behind the wheel of a car.

"The figures released today show that there is a need for a continuous effort and that we must not become complacent in our approach to road safety and dangerous behaviours on the road."

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