Still too many drink drivers, say police

A SENIOR police officer has branded the latest drink driving figures as "not good enough" despite a small decrease in the number of people committing the offence in SuffolkThe figures for Suffolk police's Christmas and New Year drink drive campaign – which ran from 6am on December 18 to 6am on January 2 – showed the number of people driving after drinking more than the legal limit had dipped slightly since last year.

A SENIOR police officer has branded the latest drink driving figures as "not good enough" despite a small decrease in the number of people committing the offence in Suffolk

The figures for Suffolk police's Christmas and New Year drink drive campaign - which ran from 6am on December 18 to 6am on January 2 - showed the number of people driving after drinking more than the legal limit had dipped slightly since last year.

Over the festive period a total of 950 people were asked to provide a breath sample and 60 tested positive for excess alcohol - 6.4% of the total. A further seven people were arrested after refusing to take a breath test.

While the figure is less than the 8.6% of people found drink driving in December 2002, it is still up on the 2000 and 2001 figures, which were both 6%.


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Five years ago the percentage of people found to be drink driving after being stopped over the Christmas period was 4.3%, and one year earlier it was even lower at 2.3%.

Chief Inspector Alan Pawsey, head of Suffolk's traffic unit, said: "While we do take some degree of encouragement from these figures, a small decrease is not good enough.

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"We need to find a way to convince that hardcore of drink drivers, who continue to put their own and the lives of others at risk, to stop it."

Out of 950 people tested this year, 143 were breathalysed at the scene of a collision with 13 of these testing positive for excess alcohol or refusing a sample.

Mr Pawsey said: "Drink drivers cause death and injury on our roads, they will not get away with it. Those we have caught during this campaign are facing a court appearance, financial penalties, loss of their licence and public shaming, thanks to the support the campaign has received from our local media, who play a big part in this promotion."

Mr Pawsey said that although people have preconceived ideas that drink drivers tend to be from the older generation, this year's figures do not support the theory, with 23 of the people tested positive being aged under 30 - while 30 were aged between 31 and 60.

He said: "People need to appreciate that as far as the police are concerned we are tackling this 24 hours a day seven days a week, 52 weeks of the year. The fact that we have a campaign to focus on it at certain times of the calendar year is useful for collating figures."

Over the Christmas period, the police have also been testing people for drug use if they have been seen driving erratically. The figures for the number of people arrested will be released soon.

n Nationally, the failure rate of drivers breathalysed after collisions over the 2003-04 festive period was higher than for the Christmas period a year ago, official police figures showed.

But the actual number of tests administered after collisions in England and Wales between December 18, 2003, and January 2, 2004, fell, as did the total number of collisions causing injury.

However, police chiefs said there was still "a worrying proportion" of people still drinking and driving.

The figures - from the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) and relating to England, Wales and Northern Ireland - showed that there were 5,002 injury collisions in the 2003-04 festive period - 4.58% fewer than in 2002-03.

The total number of breath tests administered in collisions reported to police was 11,622 - 6.29% fewer than in 2002-03.

However, the number of tests that proved positive was 8.9% compared with 8.71% last year. ACPO said the rate had been gradually climbing since 1998.

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