Belfast Telegraph

Police and 14-year-old among record high Christmas drink-drive arrests

Jonathan Bell and Ralph Hewitt

The number of arrests in connection with the PSNI's drink drive campaign was the highest in a decade.

A 14-year-old, who also failed to stop for police, and one off-duty police officer were among those detected.

Police arrested 418 drivers between the end of November and the start of January on Northern Ireland roads. That was almost 30% higher than the same period for the 2018/19 campaign and the highest level since 2008/9.

One person was over four-and-a-half times the legal limit.

Men made up almost 80% of those arrested. The oldest person caught was 83.

The most detections were in Belfast.

Almost 13,000 people were stopped and tested on the roadside during the campaign.

Assistant Chief Constable Alan Todd said drivers were warned his officers would be out in force over the festive period.

He said they had detected people on the school run and at lunch time.

"People want to socialise.. that's fine. What you can't do is continue your day as normal," he said.

"It's frustrating and disappointing 418 people ignored multiple warnings.

"Thankfully the majority of people heeded our advice."

He said: "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 family."

ACC Todd said the police officer caught would be subjected to due process "like any other member of the public."

"However, unlike any other member of the public we have a very low tolerance for any officer caught and this one faces the real prospect of losing their employment.

"It is something we take very seriously".

He added: "The youngest person detected should not have been on the road - let along driving under the influence and failing to stop for police.

The police officer said officers would continue to stop people on the roads and urged people to be safe on the roads.

"All motorists need to consider the consequences of their actions. Never take risks of having even one drink if you are driving. The consequences can be catastrophic.

"Tragically two people have already lost their lives on our roads this year.... I want to renew our appeal to all road users and pedestrians to exercise caution and put safety first."

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