A total of 86 people were arrested by police in Suffolk during the annual Christmas campaign highlighting the dangers of drink and drug driving … down from the previous year of 170 owing to the coronavirus pandemic.
The month-long initiative, which began on Tuesday, December 1, and ended on Friday, January 1, ran in conjunction with a UK-wide operation led by the National Police Chiefs’ Council. It saw officers carrying-out roadside checks throughout the day and night, as well as intelligence-led enforcement activity.
In Suffolk, a total of 86 motorists were arrested, with 43 people failing breath tests and 30 people providing positive drug tests. In addition, five people failed to provide a specimen and eight people were arrested for being unfit to drive through drink and drugs.
During last year’s campaign 170 people were arrested, 67 for drink-driving and 76 for drug-driving. In addition, 10 people failed to provide a specimen and 17 people were arrested for being unfit to drive through drink and drugs.
Temporary Chief Inspector Jon Chapman, Head of the Joint Norfolk and Suffolk Roads and Armed Policing Team, said: “While fewer people have been caught drink or drug driving during this campaign, I think we have to acknowledge the coronavirus pandemic is likely to be a significant factor in that.
“With more people working from home the roads were obviously quieter and with the hospitality sector closed during December, there were not people taking unnecessary risks after a night out at a pub or restaurant.
“However, it is disappointing to see that people are still prepared to gamble with their own life and the lives of others. Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol impairs your judgement, making your reactions slower and therefore increases the chances of being involved in a collision.
“People should not view this pandemic as an opportunity to break the law. Our officers are still out as usual and will be enforcing the fatal four causes of deaths and serious injuries on the roads.
“Expect to be dealt with appropriately if you are caught drink/drug driving; speeding; using a mobile phone; or not wearing a seatbelt. The risks are not worth it – you could lose your licence, be arrested, or – in the worst scenario of all – kill someone.”
Suffolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Tim Passmore, said: “I’m pleased to see the number of drivers failing breath tests has fallen this year, it’s just a pity it has taken a pandemic to enable this.
“However, I do appreciate that many drivers have taken the advice to stay at home and this has had a significant impact on reducing the pressure on the NHS which is good news.
“Unlike many of us who are able to protect ourselves by staying at home, Suffolk Constabulary officers are on duty as usual, putting themselves at increased risk to keep us safe. Our roads policing officers continue to patrol the county’s roads so please remember if you break the law there is a good chance you will get caught – it’s just not worth the risk.”