MOTORISTS are being warned about the dangers of drink-driving after police launched a summer crackdown.
Traffic cops across Wearside and Durham have signed up to a Europe-wide campaign aimed at stopping drivers getting behind the wheel after drinking alcohol.
Any motorist stopped by police is likely to be breath tested, with officers warning that drink-drivers risk being slapped with a ban.
The month-long campaign will run in tandem with the national Association of Chief Police Officers’ (Acpo) initiative.
It also coincides with the Europe-wide Tispol drink- and drug-drive campaign, where enforcement will take place.
Acting Chief Inspector Sarah Pitt, of Northumbria Police, said: “We treat drink- and drug-driving very seriously and any motorist stopped at any time by a police officer could be required to provide a specimen of breath or take a drug test.
“We know that the vast majority of drivers are sensible. We will be targeting those who decide to chance it – sometimes with devastating consequences.”
Anyone who fails a drink or drug test faces a minimum one-year driving ban, a fine and a huge increase in insurance premiums.
Between January and the end of April this year, the force’s officers arrested nearly 595 people on suspicion of drink or drug-related driving offences.
They breathalysed nearly 2,000 people – 267 of whom failed or refused to take the test.
Ms Pitt added: “We don’t want to stop people enjoying themselves, but our message is clear – leave the car at home.
“Our advice is to plan ahead. If you know you’re having a drink, make arrangements in advance to get home by either booking a taxi or nominating a designated driver.”
Cleveland and Durham specialist operations unit has launched its first joint campaign since the team was launched in April.
The unit’s Inspector Mick Little said: “We work all year round to try to get the message across, but the summer months present different problems, with the focus being on afternoon drinking.
“We can probably all see the attraction of enjoying a drink in a beer garden or at a barbecue on a sunny afternoon.
“All I’m asking is that you leave the car at home and get a taxi or walk.
“There is still a hardcore of offenders out there who persist, despite all the warnings, in driving whilst intoxicated.
“We are calling upon the law-abiding citizens in our communities to help bring these offenders to justice by calling Crimestoppers.
“Callers can provide information in complete confidence and every piece of information will be followed up.”
Details including the name, address, details of the vehicle and places frequented by suspected drink drivers are being sought as part of the appeal.
Crimestoppers can be called anonymously on 0800 555 111.