Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland motorway closed and scores stopped in PSNI drink-drive crackdown

Scores of people were stopped by police as part of their drink-drive crackdown.
Scores of people were stopped by police as part of their drink-drive crackdown.
Ralph Hewitt

By Ralph Hewitt

The PSNI carried out a major drink-driving operation on the M1 motorway on Friday morning.

Scores of motorists were breathalysed in the Sprucefield park and ride by traffic officers.

Mahon Road Road policing unit tweeted that 12 drivers were found to have consumed alcohol but were under the legal limit.

One motorist was over the limit and was arrested at the scene.

The legal drink-driving limit in Northern Ireland is 35 microgrammes (mg) of alcohol per 100ml of breath.

Throughout December the PSNI conducted its winter anti-drink and drug-drive operation. The operation began on November 28 and will continue until New Year's Day.

During last year's operation, 11,500 people were given preliminary roadside breath tests with 322 people failing those tests and being arrested.

Motorists travelling towards Belfast on Friday morning were informed by flashing traffic signs that the road ahead was closed.

Traffic cones were put in place along the motorway which forced motorists to take the Sprucefield park and ride exit. Some of the cones looked as if they had been pushed aside.

Those drivers who were directed into the car park by officers were breathalysed after police explained that they were legally obliged to do so even if there was no suspicion that the motorist had been drinking alcohol.

This newspaper revealed last week that eight people were caught drink or drug driving every day on Northern Ireland's roads.

More than 9,000 people were detected over the legal limit in the last three years.

Within the figures it was discovered that one offender had a breath test reading of 181mg of alcohol in 100ml of breath – over five times the legal limit.

The youngest person caught over the limit was just 14 years old, even though the legal age to drive in Northern Ireland is 17. The oldest was 87.

Men are much more likely to be caught drink or drug driving - around four-fifths (80%) of those detected in each of the three years were male.

Peter Dolan, whose son Enda (18) was knocked down and killed by a drunk driver in Belfast in 2014, said he was shocked at the figures.

He believes people continue to drive under the influence due to the “lack of a deterrent”.

Since his son's death, Mr Dolan has campaigned for the introduction of tougher sentences for those who cause death by dangerous driving.

Mr Dolan believes this is the only way to cut the rates of drink and drug driving.

Belfast Telegraph Digital


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