Police have a stern message to drink and drug drivers following a rise in offences during their annual festive campaign.
Police say 253 people could have potentially ruined their lives and the lives of others during a Christmas drink and drug driving campaign.
Throughout December and early January, Cleveland Police and Durham Constabulary launched a campaign showing the devastating effects of drink and drug driving.
Of all those motorists subject to random stop checks by officers, 253 people were arrested across Cleveland and Durham on suspicion of drink and drug driving offences.
Another 4,778 motorists tested had realised that it was not worth the risk, say police.
In comparison to the same campaign carried out in 2017, the figures show an increase in drink and drug driving offences in Cleveland of 48% and 38.5% in Durham.
Inspector Darren Breslin said: “It is completely unacceptable that people still take risks with their lives and the lives of others by drink and drug driving.
"These figures show that it still happens despite our warnings and that some motorists have a blatant disregard for the safety of other road users.
“There are no excuses and we will continue with our campaigns in order to bring those people that think it is acceptable to risk others’ lives to justice.
"Drink drug driving robs people of their loved ones, it causes catastrophic injuries and it wrecks peoples’ lives and livelihoods. No matter who you are, or the situation you’re in, there is no justification.
“People have been warned, we will not tolerate drink or drug driving.”
Police launched their hard-hitting campaign in December to show the devastating effects of drink and drug driving over the festive period.
The joint Cleveland and Durham police campaign, using the hashtag #noemptychair, encouraged people to see that drink and drug driving kills.
The campaign states “Pain is an empty chair” and reminds people not to be the reason why someone’s loved one is not at the Christmas table, Christmas party or festive get together this year.
Figures show that 38 people were killed on roads in the North East due to a suspected drink/drug driver between 2012 and 2016.