Belfast Telegraph

Number found driving under influence hits 12-year high

Some 418 drivers found to be under the influence of drink and/or drugs were arrested between November 28 2019 and January 1 2020.

A police officer holds a breath test kit (John Giles/PA)
A police officer holds a breath test kit (John Giles/PA)

By Rebecca Black, PA

The number of people found driving under of the influence of drink and/or drugs has hit a 12-year high, according to police.

Some 418 drivers under the influence were arrested between November 28 2019 and January 1 2020.

They included one who was four and a half times the drink drive limit, with a reading of 163 micrograms of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath.

The number also included a 14-year-old, who despite being too young to legally drive, failed to stop for police and was found to be driving under the influence.

Meanwhile, the oldest motorist caught was 83 years old.

The number is up 30% on the same period last year, and the highest in 12 years according to PSNI statistics.

PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Alan Todd described the figures as “frustrating” and “disappointing”.

He also said that 210 people had been detected just below the limit, and called these people gamblers

“When we launched the 2019/20 operation, drivers were warned not to take any risks by drinking or taking drugs, and driving,” he said.

“It is frustrating and disappointing that 418 people ignored our multiple warnings.

“They were among nearly 13,000 people who were subjected to roadside preliminary breath tests, which we warned people would take place day and night across the country.

Never take the risk of having even one drink if you are driving. The consequences can be catastrophic PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Alan Todd

“Thankfully, the majority of people heeded our advice.

“Those people who completely disregarded the safety of themselves and others by taking the shameful and incredibly dangerous risk of driving after drinking, now find themselves facing a New Year court appearance and a driving ban, which may have a huge impact on their life and that of their family.”

Mr Todd urged motorists to consider the consequences of their actions.

“Never take the risk of having even one drink if you are driving. The consequences can be catastrophic,” he said.

“Tragically, two people have already lost their lives on our roads this year. So, mindful of the continuing hours of darkness and winter weather, I want to renew our appeal to all road users and pedestrians to exercise caution and put road safety first.

“Never drive after drinking or taking drugs, always wear your seatbelt, and whether you are a pedestrian, cyclist or other road user, please always pay attention to your surroundings and don’t get distracted by conversations or mobile phones.”

PA

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