It’s the time of year when motorists are warned of the perils of getting behind the wheel when they’re over the limit.
But North Yorkshire Police is aiming its drink drive message at a different group of motorists this year – people who’d never dream of drinking and driving.
Officers say despite persistent warnings in previous years, a small minority of drivers continue to ignore the message.
As a consequence, every year in North Yorkshire there are approximately 100 people killed or injured in a collision involving a driver impaired by alcohol or drugs.
So this year, they hope law-abiding motorists can help them keep the roads safe by keeping an eye on friends when they’re out and about and stopping them taking to the road if they’re under the influence.
They are also encouraging people to pass on information about drink or drug drivers, as their month-long Christmas drink and drug driving campaign begins.
The campaign is organised by 95 Alive, the York and North Yorkshire Road Safety Partnership comprising, North Yorkshire County Council, North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue, North Yorkshire Police , City of York Council, District Councils and Community Safety.
Traffic Sergeant Andy Morton said: “No matter what we say, year after year we still catch dozens of people driving under the influence in just the first week of our Christmas campaign.
“Drink or drug driving is simply a stupid decision to make.
“So we’re doing things differently this year and aiming our message at those who have the sense not to do it.
“If you know the difference between right and wrong, you can help us make a difference.
“It might be by keeping an eye on mates when they’re out having a drink, or ordering them a taxi and making sure they don’t get behind the wheel if you think they’ve had one too many.
“Preventing them from driving in the first place could well save a life. Alternatively it could be by sharing information with us about someone who is drink or drug driving so we can stop a tragedy before it happens.”
Last year, a third of the suspected drink or drug drivers arrested by North Yorkshire Police had been involved in a collision. Sergeant Morton added: “That’s a staggering proportion that shows just how much alcohol and drugs impair your ability to drive. But while we’re out catching drink and drug drivers, you could also help us reduce that statistic.
“We see the horrific consequences of drink or drug driving first-hand. If you saw what we see, you’d definitely report a drink or drug driver.”
Dave Pitt Head of Prevention and Protection for North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service said: “Every year our fire crews attend incidents involving drink drivers. We would urge people to help support the campaign by looking out for their mates and not letting them get behind the wheel if they’ve had a few drinks.”
Police will be out in force, carrying out stop checks at all times of the day and night, including early mornings to detect those who are still over the limit from the night before.
They will also be targeting known offenders and key locations throughout the county.
Road safety partnership 95 Alive will be holding road safety events throughout the county during December.
A 95 Alive spokesperson said: “One of the main messages being given to the public is to be aware of how much they are drinking and how long it takes the body to get rid of it. As a general rule, people should allow one hour per unit before they drive again and keep track of how much they are drinking because it’s easy to become unfit to drive without realising it.
“For example, four pints of average lager may have at least 12 units of alcohol. That means at least 12 hours after the last drink before driving again. Two glasses of wine may have six units, needing at least six hours before driving.”
During last year’s month-long Christmas campaign, 137 drivers were arrested across the region on suspicion of being over the limit.
Of those, 83 arrests related to drink driving and 54 to drug driving. One hundred and seventeen of those arrested were men and 20 were women.
The highest number of arrests were made in Harrogate (29), with 28 arrests being made in York and 24 in Scarborough.
Shockingly, a third of the arrests made were after a road traffic collision (46 arrests).
The highest breathalyser reading of the campaign was 141 micrograms of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath, provided by a 41-year-old woman arrested in the Thirsk area on 11 December 2017 at around 5pm. The legal limit is 35 micrograms.
She appeared at Northallerton Magistrates Court on 19 December 2017, where she pleaded guilty and was given a 16 week prison sentence suspended for 18 months. She also received a 36-month driving ban and was ordered to pay £200 costs.
Fifteen of the drivers arrested blew higher than 100 micrograms of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath, which is almost three times the legal limit.
If you see someone about to drink drive notify police immediately by dialling 999. If you have information about someone who you believe regularly drives after consuming alcohol or drugs, please call North Yorkshire Police on 101 or alternatively Crimestoppers on 0800 555111 to pass this information on to officers.
Last modified: December 3, 2018