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Reduction in local drink-driving detections but one is too many PSNI

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Reduction in local drink-driving detections but one is too many  PSNI thumbnailDaniel McCrossan

FEWER people were arrested for drink-driving in the Derry and Strabane area over the festive period when compared to the previous year, according to newly-released PSNI statistics.

Provisional figures just released show there was a reduction in the number of motorists caught over the legal limit on local roads during the PSNI's six week winter drink drive operation.

Between November 24 and January 3, 28 people were arrested for driving with excess alcohol - a decrease on the 37 caught during the same period of the campaign in 2015.

There was an increase in the neighbouring Fermanagh and Omagh District Council area where drivers were detected in large numbers with 32 compared to the 26 evidential procedures in 2015.

Across Northern Ireland, a total of 383 people were arrested during the drink-driving operation, 16 less than during the previous operation and resulting in an overall 4 per cent reduction.

The campaign also saw the introduction of new legislation which gave officers powers to perform random breath tests at checkpoints. A total of 11,000 people were stopped across Northern Ireland for random breath tests.

SDLP West Tyrone MLA and Policing Board member, Daniel McCrossan, said there can be no excuse for drink-driving.

"There is absolutely no excuse for getting behind the wheel while drunk. Those who do recklessly put their own life and the lives of all those they encounter on the road at risk. It just isn't worth it.

"I would appeal to everyone to exercise care, look after their own well-being and the well-being of friends and colleagues - don't get behind the wheel and don't let others get behind the wheel if they've been drinking.

"I'll continue working with the police and other agencies to promote road safety and do all we can to minimise tragedy on our roads," Mr McCrossan said.

PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Alan Todd said that whilst he welcomed the overall reduction, police will continue in their quest to stamp out the scourge of drink-driving,

"When we launched this operation at the end of November, we warned drivers not to take the risk because we would be using new legislation to perform random breath tests at vehicle checkpoints day and night across the country," he said.

“We tested nearly 11,000 people - a 125 per cent increase in the number of preliminary roadside breath tests compared with the previous operation. Three hundred and 83 people failed those tests; so once again, it is difficult to accept these figures as a success."

The current legal limit in Northern is 35 micrograms of alcohol per 100 millimetres of breath. One driver, ACC Todd said, was detected four times the limit.

"Nearly 300 people received warnings because while they provided a positive breath sample, they were below the legal limit. We shouldn't be detecting people driving with any alcohol in their system.

"It's disappointing that despite our continued warnings, publicity and media coverage generated by this policing operation, that a minority of people completely disregarded the safety of themselves and others by continuing this shameful and incredibly dangerous practice.

"Nearly 400 people across Northern Ireland are now facing the stark reality a court appearance where they will most likely lose their driving license for one or more years, be fined, and will have great difficulty in obtaining car insurance in the future.

"Many also risk losing their jobs or going to jail. The alternative consequences had they not been caught do not bear thinking about. Each one of these drink-drive detections has potentially saved lives.

"Police will continue to detect people who insist on driving after having taken drugs or alcohol. We are again appealing for all motorists to consider the consequences of their actions.

"Just do not take the risk of having even one drink if you are driving. The consequences, as police officers and our emergency service colleagues witness first hand, can be catastrophic," the police chief added.

Belfast City district recorded most evidential procedures for drink-driving (62), followed by Newry, Mourne and Down (39) and Mid Ulster (34). Ards/North Down and Mid/East Antrim had fewest with 25 each.

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