POLICE will be out in force across Wearside this summer carrying out extra breath tests in a bid to catch drink-drivers.
All drivers involved in collisions will be automatically breathalysed, and those suspected of using drugs before getting behind the wheel are also being targeted.
The move comes as the Association of Chief Police Officers’ Summer Drink Driving Campaign is officially launched today.
This year’s campaign is focusing on younger drivers, and people going to events such as barbecues, warning them of the dangers of drinking during the day.
As part of the blitz, Sunderland officers will conduct roadside checks, test any drivers suspected of drink or drug driving, and target known drink-drivers.
“Northumbria Police will not tolerate drink driving,” said Motor Patrols Chief Inspector George Maratty.
“We are committed to doing all we can to put a stop to it, and throughout June 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 the vast majority of drivers are sensible but will be targeting those who decide to chance it and take a risk.
“Anyone found in charge of a motor vehicle and over the limit will be arrested.
“We don’t want to stop people enjoying their summer but our message is very clear – if you are having a drink then leave the car at home.
“Motorists should plan ahead, and if they know they’re going to be having a drink they should make arrangements to get home in advance.
“People should book a taxi, or nominate a designated driver, and avoid the temptation of getting behind the wheel while under the influence.”
Just days ago, anti drink-driving campaigners expressed outrage after magistrates allowed drunk driver Joseph Dove to walk free, despite him driving while more than four times over the limit.
Dove, of Dundas Street, Monkwearmouth, had 160mg of alcohol in 35ml of breath when he smashed his Volkswagen Golf into a kerb – the legal limit is 35mg.
The 30-year-old admitted drink driving when he appeared at South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court on Friday – his second conviction for the same crime in three years.
Despite the high reading and it being a repeat offence – which meant Dove could have been jailed for six months – magistrates gave him a 26-week jail term, suspended for two years.
The Campaign Against Drinking and Driving, which supports families of victims killed and injured by drink-drivers, branded the sentence “rubbish”.