A stark warning has been issued to motorists thinking about hitting the road while drunk or on drugs this festive season - expect a free lift straight to the doors of a police cell.
The annual reminder from Northumbria Police comes as the National Police Chief's Council (NPCC) launches its Christmas Drink and Drug Driving Campaign.
From tomorrow, traffic officers will be carrying out targeted stops across the region where they will be testing drivers for drink and drugs.
If found positive, motorists could face a driving ban of 12-months, a criminal record, a fine up to £5,000 or six months in prison.
Drivers are also being warned to ensure they are safe to drive the morning after a night of drinking - as people could still be over the legal limit.
Sergeant Matt Sykes who leads the force's Operation Dragoon team said: “The reality is that there is no excuse for drink and drug driving. Ultimately, it costs lives and anyone who gets behind the wheel while under the influence is running the risk of causing a serious collision.
“We will be out in force this month to act as a deterrent but also to catch anyone who ignores this warning and continues to put lives at risk.
“If you are aware of anyone who is flouting this law then we would encourage you to contact police so we can take action before anyone is killed on the road.”
Latest figures reveal an average of 54,099 people are convicted of driving or attempting to drive while over the legal limit every year, while an average 3,000 people are killed or seriously injured each year in a drink-drive collision.
On March 2, 2015, the drug driving law changed to make it easier for the police to also convict drug-drivers.
Sixteen legal and illegal drugs are covered by the law including cannabis, cocaine, ecstasy and ketamine. The limits for all illegal drugs are extremely low – taking even a very small amount of an illegal drug could put drivers over the limit.
Combining illegal drugs with alcohol is especially deadly since it has been found that drivers who have consumed both are 23 times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash than sober drivers.
Sgt Sykes said: “The legislation around drug driving has been in place for more than three years now and we have been very proactive in putting offenders before the court.
“We have specialist roadside testing kits that can detect whether a person is under the influence of drugs. If you are driving while high then you should expect to be arrested.
“It has been proven that both drink and drugs can impair a person’s ability to drive and we hope that the message of this campaign gets through – it is never acceptable to drink or drug drive.”
For more information visit //think.direct.gov.uk/drink-driving.html