Fes­tive ‘pull’ to break the law

Wales On Sunday - - NEWS -

CHRIST­MAS mer­ri­ment is in­creas­ingly tempt­ing mo­torists to drink-drive, a sur­vey has found, with one in six feel­ing added pres­sure to en­joy “one for the road”.

A study of more than 18,500 driv­ers by the AA dis­cov­ered that 17% re­port a greater ex­pec­ta­tion to drink be­fore they get be­hind the wheel dur­ing the fes­tive pe­riod.

It marks a sig­nif­i­cant spike since 2011, when only 5% com­plained of ex­tra pres­sure to con­sume al­co­hol be­fore driv­ing at Christ­mas.

Chief among the sus­pects de­mand­ing peo­ple have a pre­jour­ney tip­ple are work col­leagues, who 42% iden­ti­fied as the pushi­est, and friends, named by 41% as the worst of­fend­ers.

The find­ings come as po­lice launch a crack­down on drink and drug driv­ing as Christ­mas ap­proaches.

Forces across Eng­land and Wales are cur­rently run­ning “in­tel­li­gence-led” op­er­a­tions to tar­get mo­torists who get be­hind the wheel un­der the in­flu­ence.

The ini­tia­tive will run from De­cem­ber 1 to New Year’s Day in­clu­sive.

Dur­ing last year’s Christ­mas cam­paign po­lice stopped more than 100,000 ve­hi­cles, with 5,698 breath tests that were pos­i­tive, failed or re­fused.

These are cases where the driver is found to be over the le­gal limit by a breathal­yser, re­fuses to give an of­fi­cer a spec­i­men of breath, or gives a spec­i­men of breath but it is not suf­fi­cient to de­ter­mine a re­sult.

An­thony Bang­ham, Na­tional Po­lice Chiefs Coun­cil lead for roads polic­ing, said: “Every year po­lice forces deal with cases of drink or drug-driv­ing that re­sult in fam­i­lies fac­ing Christ­mas with­out loved ones.

“Our re­cent op­er­a­tions have shown higher rates of de­tec­tion for drugs and al­co­hol than in re­cent years. The scale of the prob­lem is still a real con­cern.

“The law says that if you drive while un­der the in­flu­ence of al­co­hol or drugs you can face an un­lim­ited fine, dis­qual­i­fi­ca­tion from driv­ing, and more than a decade in prison.

“Even a small amount of al­co­hol or drugs in your sys­tem can af­fect your abil­ity to drive safely.”

Ed­mund King, AA pres­i­dent, said: “It is wor­ry­ing that peo­ple are still en­cour­ag­ing oth­ers to take such risks. If a friend or work col­league of­fers you a drink when you’re driv­ing say ‘no thank you’.”

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