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Random breath tests planned in drink-driving crackdown

Published 24/11/2016

Police in Northern Ireland will carry out random breath tests
Police in Northern Ireland will carry out random breath tests

Random breath tests will be carried out as part of a new operation targeting drink drivers.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland said new powers enabled officers to set up checkpoints specifically aimed at catching drivers who are over the limit.

Assistant Chief Constable Alan Todd said: "This new legislation gives police another tool that will hopefully help us to prevent people taking life-threatening, unacceptable, simply stupid risks.

"Previously, police officers needed a reasonable suspicion about the manner of someone's driving, have seen a moving traffic offence, or been called to a collision before requiring a preliminary breath test from a driver. The new legislation means we can now establish vehicle checkpoints solely for the purpose of carrying out random breath tests, something which we hope will act as an even more visible, physical deterrent."

Last year 375 people were caught driving while under the influence of alcohol - a rise on the 282 detained the previous year.

They ranged in age from 16 to 83 years old and included one individual who was so drunk they could barely stand up and another boozy motorist who was apprehended twice in two months.

The highest reading was 140 micrograms - four times the legal limit.

Mr Todd said operations to catch drink drivers would be run throughout the day and night in the weeks leading up to Christmas and into the new year.

Police will also coordinate road safety operations in border counties with colleagues from An Garda Siochana Traffic Corp.

Any motorist stopped can expect to be breathalysed, warned Mr Todd.

The senior officer added: "Let me be absolutely clear. If you find yourself asking the question, I wonder if I'm OK to drive? The answer is - you are not. Do not take the risk. The consequences, as police officers and our emergency service colleagues witness first hand, can be catastrophic.

"I want all motorists to think about the consequences to yourself and your family of being involved in a serious collision. How would you feel if your actions resulted in you or one of your family being paralysed? How would you feel if some innocent person was killed? Consider too the impact of losing your driving licence. Would you also lose your job? Your home?"

A total of 61 people have been killed in road crashes so far this year.

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From Belfast Telegraph