‘The pubs may shut at 11pm but our cells are open 24/7’ – Police warning to Essex drivers

Essex Police has launched its annual anti-drink and drug driving campaign Picture: PA

Essex Police has launched its annual anti-drink and drug driving campaign Picture: PA - Credit: Archant

Drivers in Essex have been warned by police that prison cells “are open 24/7” for those choosing to get between the wheel under the influence of drink or drugs.

Essex Police has launched its Christmas anti-drink and drug driving campaign, with officers working proactively to target those flouting the law.

The force said its officers will be “working around the clock” to keep people safe on the road as the county’s restaurants and bars re-open following the end of the second national lockdown on Wednesday.

Temporary Chief Inspector Emma Bullock, head of roads policing, said: “We know it’s been a really challenging year and we all want a bit a festive cheer more than ever but that is no excuse for drink driving.

“We don’t want stop people celebrating Christmas but want you to do it safely.

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“You can still be over the limit the morning after a few hours sleep or a cup of coffee won’t sober you up.

“I’d urge families not to tolerate their loved ones taking risks and put their lives, and those of others, at risk.

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“After the year we’ve all had, we don’t want anyone to experience any more tragedy.

“My officers will be out across the county working proactively to target those flouting the law.

“Pubs and restaurants may have to shut at 11pm but our bars are open 24/7 for the most dangerous drivers."

During last year’s Christmas campaign, the force made 166 drink driving arrests, 170 drug driving arrests, and 57 arrests for people failing to provide a specimen. 

Chief Insp Bullock added that the force is continuing to build on its first-ever anti-drug driving campaign which was launched last year.  

“For some time we’ve seen more drug driving arrests than drink driving arrests and it’s really important we continue to raise awareness of the issue while taking drug drivers of the road,” she added.  

“Throughout this year, whether we’ve been under national restrictions or not, we continue to see people drug driving.“This month we’ll be particularly targeting the most dangerous drivers – those repeat offenders who drive while disqualified.“We’re still finding that many people don’t realise that drugs can still be in your system days after last taking them and if you’re caught you could lose your licence, your job, and even your home.” 

Nicola Foster, chairman of the Safer Essex Roads Partnership (SERP), said: “Any amount of drink and drugs in the human body impairs judgement, so if you need to drive this Christmas, please make a plan to ensure that you do so without drink or drugs in your system. 

“You may feel okay to drive, and you may have done it before and managed to get home safely but, especially with more people walking and cycling, is it worth risking their lives as well as yours? No quick ‘high’ will be worth the lifetime ‘low’. 

“We understand that everyone makes mistakes but sadly, mistakes on the road can lead to someone dying or being seriously injured on the road. Vision Zero is the ambition that no one should die on the road because they’ve made a mistake. Driving with more than the legal limit of alcohol or with drugs in your system is a deliberate action and featured in nearly a third of road deaths in Essex in 2018. 

“We should all be supporting Essex Police in their desire to remove the worst offenders from our roads to reduce the unacceptable number of road deaths to zero.” 

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