Increase in number caught drink or drug driving in December operation

One of the highest ever alcohol readings was recorded in one incident – more than four times the legal limit.

2022/23 police winter anti-drink/drug drive operation
2022/23 police winter anti-drink/drug drive operation

The PSNI arrested 308 people on suspicion of drink or drug driving during a crackdown in December – an increase of nine from the previous year.

During the operation one of the highest ever readings for alcohol in Northern Ireland was detected in one incident, with the driver more than four times the legal limit.

The youngest person detected was 16 and the oldest was 83.

Provisional figures from the operation which ran from December 1 to January 1 reveal:

– of the 9,343 preliminary breath tests conducted, 5.1% (480) resulted in a fail or failed to provide, a similar proportion when compared with the 2021/22 campaign (4.7%).

– a total of 308 people were arrested for drink/drug driving-related offences during the campaign, representing an increase of 3.0% compared with the same period the previous year (299).

– the highest number of arrests were made in Belfast (54) while Ards and North Down experienced the largest decrease in arrests when compared with the same period from the previous year (from 27 to 14).

– males accounted for the majority (86.4%) of those arrested for drink/drug driving offences throughout the 22/23 campaign while almost half of those arrested were between 30 and 49 years old.

– the highest evidential breath test reading recorded over the campaign was 157mg/100ml.

2022/23 police winter anti-drink/drug drive operation
Superintendent Gary Busch said it was disappointing that some people still ignore safety messaging (Liam McBurney/PA)

Superintendent Gary Busch said: “When we launched our winter drink and drug drive operation, we warned drivers not to take any risks by drinking or taking drugs and driving.

“Unfortunately, 308 people ignored our warning.

“They now find themselves facing the prospect of starting the new year with a court appearance and losing their driving licence, which may have a huge impact on their life, that of their family and possibly their career.

“Those 308 arrests reflect 308 occasions where your police service has prevented a potentially serious or fatal road traffic collision.

“It is disappointing that a minority of people continue to disregard the safety of themselves and others, by taking the incredibly dangerous risk of driving after drinking or taking drugs.”

Mr Busch added: “It is also clear from our arrests, that significantly more men than women are being detected, while almost half of those arrested were aged between 30 and 49 years of age.

“The youngest person detected was 16 years of age and the eldest 83 years of age. The highest detection was 157mg/100mlm, over four times the legal limit of 35mg/100ml.

“This detection is not only one of the highest recorded, but also one of the most shocking.

“Our message is clear. Never ever drink and drive. Just one drink can impair decision making. Just one drink can cause a collision. Just one drink could kill.”

“We will continue to focus our operational activity on road safety issues. We all share the roads. This means we all share the responsibility for road safety.

“Slow down. Pay greater attention to your surroundings.

“Always wear your seat belt and never drive after drinking or taking drugs.”

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