Northumbria Police: more than half of Christmas drug drive tests were positive

A police drug drive test.

A police drug drive test.

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More than half of drivers checked for drugs by Northumbria Police over Christmas tested positive.

The force says it tested more than 1,500 people during the festive clampdown on drink and drug drivers.

Officers were given high tech testing kits to carry out roadside drug swipes during the first Christmas campaign since new drug laws were introduced in April.

Dozens of drivers were tested. More than half were found to have an illegal amount of drugs in their system and reported.

In addition to the drug tests nearly 2,000 people were tested for excess alcohol on the roadside:

- A total of 1,665 motorists were breathalysed, with more than a hundred arrested after being found over the legal limit or failing to comply with officers;

- A total of 539 motorists were breathalysed following a collision, with 17 arrested after returning positive tests;

- Out of the 1,665 drivers breathalysed, 1,320 were aged over 25 and the remaining 345 were aged younger.

- A total of 148 people were arrested throughout the campaign for drink and drug driving offences.

Motor Patrols Chief Inspector John Heckels said the campaign was a "success" but called for people to report any suspected offenders to police: “For this campaign we were equipped with new legislation and state-of-the-art equipment which put us in the best position possible to take drink and drug drivers off our roads.

"Our teams were committed to stopping anybody who took the risk of having a drink when they got behind the wheel and 148 arrests shows that we delivered on our promise to clampdown on offenders.

“For the first Christmas we were also able to arrest a number of people for drug related offences and are continuing to have their day before the court in the coming weeks and months.

“People need to be aware that they are putting their own life at risk, as well as the lives of the public, by getting behind the wheel once they have had a drink or taken any form of illegal substance.

"I also want to thank all members of the local communities who reported a suspected drink driver to us and allowed us to stop them before they caused an injury to either themselves or the public.

“We will continue to target those who break the law throughout the year and our Op Dragoon team will have a number of targets they will be monitoring to ensure they don’t get back behind the wheel.

“If you do suspect anyone of drink driving then call the police. Reporting these people could help to save lives and make a real difference out on the roads."

The majority of those motorists who were tested were stopped at checkpoints set up across the force but some were identified following a call from the member of the public.

Chief Inspector Heckels added: "Whenever we run this type of campaign we ask for the public to work with us to identify those who are putting lives at risk by driving under the influence.

"We had a positive response again this year and a number of offenders were put before the courts because of intelligence fed to us by our local communities.

"We all want to make the region a safer place and it is always encouraging to see that the public share our determination to take those who put lives at risk off our roads."

Anyone who suspects someone of drink or drug driving should contact police on 101 ext 69191 or 999 in an emergency.