On Saturday, 1 December, Merseyside Police launched its annual Christmas drink and drug driving campaign, aimed at reducing the number of road deaths and serious injuries on the roads of Merseyside and to raise awareness of the dangers around driving while over the limit or impaired through drugs.
For the month long campaign, which will run up until Tuesday, 1 January 2019, patrols will be stepped up across Merseyside and officers from the Roads Policing Unit will be paying particular attention to hotspot areas in the evenings and early in the morning, to target those who are risking driving the morning after drinking or taking drugs the night before.
During last year’s Christmas drink and drug driving campaign, officers carried out a total of 5026 breath tests in Merseyside with 261 drivers being arrested.
Inspector Keith Kellett, of Matrix Roads Policing, said: "It is incredibly important, not only at this time of year, but all year round that motorists seriously think about the consequences that drink or drug driving can have. We appreciate that, particularly during the festive season, people want to go out and enjoy an alcoholic drink however it must be reminded people who drive at twice the current legal alcohol level are at least 50 times more likely to be involved in a fatal collision.
"Drug impairment testing is now routine at the roadside in Merseyside and cannabis and cocaine are the two most common drugs used by drivers arrested in Merseyside. We have a very high detection rate in these cases of 98%.
"I also want to warn people about the risks of using medicinal drugs, particularly at this time of year with the advent of colder weather. Always read the instructions on the packaging carefully or speak to your GP or chemist. Taking certain medicines with alcohol can severely affect a person’s driving and if the label says “do not operate machinery”, that means do not drive.
"Our message to drivers is not to drink or take drugs and then drive, just simply pre-plan your evenings out, use public transport or have a designated non-drinking driver. And help out your friends and family by not offering a drink to someone who is planning to drive.
Any amount of alcohol affects your ability to drive. You risk a fine of up to £5,000, a minimum 12-month driving ban and a criminal record.
Beware the morning after You could be over the legal limit many hours after your last drink, even if it's the 'morning after'. Sleep, coffee and cold showers don't help to sober you up - time is the only way to get alcohol out of your system.
There is no excuse for drink driving "I can handle my drink."
Alcohol affects everybody's driving for the worse. It creates a feeling of overconfidence, makes judging distance and speed more difficult and slows your reactions so it takes longer to stop
"I'm only going down the road."
A large proportion of all drink drive crashes occur within three miles of the start of the journey.
If you're planning to drink alcohol, plan how to get home without driving Options include agreeing on a designated driver, saving a taxi number to your phone, or finding out about public transport routes and times before you go out.
Don't offer an alcoholic drink to someone you know is planning to drive Even if you're not driving, you can help reduce the number of people who are killed and injured every year by drink driving.
Don't accept a lift from a driver you know has drunk alcohol
Did you know that it is illegal to drive if your driving is impaired by drugs or if you have certain drugs above a specified level in your blood?
Drug driving stats:
325 drug drive arrests in 2015 in Merseyside compared to 110 in 2014
66 drug drive arrests in December 2015
Drugs were detected in 98% of samples submitted to the forensic labs in 2015
73% of drivers were prosecuted
The penalties for drug driving are the same as for drink driving. If you are convicted you will receive:
A minimum 12-month driving ban
A criminal record
A hefty fine or up to 6 months in prison or both
The consequences of a drug drive conviction are far reaching and can include:
Loss of independence
The shame of having a criminal record
Increase in car insurance costs
Trouble getting in to countries like the USA
You don't have to be on illegal drugs to be impaired to drive – prescription or over-the-counter medicines can also impair your ability to drive. If you’re taking medicines, talk to your doctor, pharmacist or healthcare professional before driving.
On 2 March 2015 the drug driving law changed to make it easier for the police to catch and convict drug drivers.
It is now an offence to drive with certain drugs above a specified level in your blood - just as it is with drink driving. Seventeen 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 you over the limit.