Wed, 19 Feb 2020

BELFAST, Northern Ireland - The number of drivers and motorcyclists caught driving or riding under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs during the 2019/20 winter anti-drink drive operation in Northern Ireland has increased by a shocking 30% compared to the same period last year.

Additionally, the gruesome numbers are the highest in 12 years.

According to preliminary figures released on Thursday, 418 drink and drug drivers were arrested between 28 November 2019 and 1 January 2020.

"When we launched the 2019/20 operation, drivers were warned not to take any risks by drinking or taking drugs and driving," Assistant Chief Constable Alan Todd (pictured) said Thursday.

"It is frustrating and disappointing that 418 people ignored our multiple warnings. They were among nearly 13,500 people who were subjected to roadside preliminary breath tests which we warned people would take place day and night across the country."

"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."

One person was detected at over four-and-a-half times the drink drive limit, with a reading of 163 micrograms of alcohol in 100 millimetres of breath - the legal limit being 35 micrograms of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath!

Detections were made at all times of the day, across the road network; many high readings were detected during and just after lunchtime.

Once again, at 14 years of age, the youngest person detected shouldn't have been on the road - let alone driving under the influence and failing to stop for police. The oldest person detected was 83 years of age. Males accounted for the majority of detections, with 314 (79.1%).

"Police will continue to use all the powers and legislation at our disposal, including the authorised checkpoints, to detect people who insist on driving after having taken drugs or alcohol. All motorists need 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," said ACC Todd.

"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."

"Drive in a manner and at a speed which is appropriate for the conditions and make extra effort to look out for pedestrians and cyclists particularly along rural roads. Pedestrians and cyclists should wear bright clothing, reflective jackets or armbands where possible to ensure they can be seen. And pedestrians, where there is no footpath they should always walk on the right, facing towards oncoming traffic."

"Never drive after drinking or taking drugs, always wear your seat belt 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."

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