POLICE have launched their annual bid to keep drunk drivers off the region’s roads this festive season.
Northumbria Police and Durham Constabulary are also warning about the dangers of drug-driving as they prepare for one of their busiest times of year.
The two forces will run their campaigns in tandem with the Association of Chief Police Officers’ initiative.
Dedicated teams of officers from Northumbria’s Roads Safety Unit and the Roads Policing Unit will carry out additional breath tests alongside normal road checks.
They will also work with neighbourhood policing teams to conduct intelligence-led patrols to target those suspected of drink driving.
Inspector Dave Guthrie said: “The message is simple: Be responsible and don’t drink or take drugs before driving.
“It’s very tempting at this time of year with all the festivities to get behind the wheel when you’ve had a drink, but the potential consequences could be devastating.
“Make plans about how you are going to get home –whether that’s a taxi, or having a designated driver who stays sober.
“Christmas is a time for family and loved ones. No police officer wants to have to knock on someone’s door and deliver bad news – and no one wants to receive that kind of news.”
During last year’s Christmas campaign in Northumbria’s area, more than 1,300 drivers were breathalysed and just over six per cent of those failed or refused to take the test.
Insp Guthrie added: “I’d also remind people that motorists who fail a drink-drive test face a minimum of a year’s driving ban, a fine and big increases in insurance premiums, as well as risking losing their job.
“We know that the vast majority of drivers are sensible, but people also need to remember that they could still be over the limit the following morning, and that even a small quantity of alcohol or drugs can have serious consequences.”
The campaign will run into the new year, and will include the random stop checking of vehicles at all times of the day and night, as well as targeting areas known for drink-related collisions and drink or drug-drive offenders.
In Durham, suspected drug drivers will be dealt with by a roadside field impairment tests to assess for the effects of any substances they may have taken.
The force is also putting up signs on Shotton Road in Peterlee, at Sniperly in Durham and in Spennymoor to get out the message about the campaign and checks.
•If drinking, make alternative arrangements to get home that does not involve driving.
•Take a licensed taxi, black cabs or minicabs.
•Appoint a designated driver for the evening that will be drinking soft drinks only.
•Take care when driving the morning after you have been drinking as alcohol may still be in your system and you may be over the limit. Likewise, be careful about drinking at lunchtime.