Festive drivers over the legal limit

THE number of motorists caught drink driving over the festive period was lower than the previous two years.

Police figures show that almost five per cent of motorists stopped between December 1 last year and January 1 this year were found to be driving while impaired by alcohol.

The 65 arrests were a drop on the 2009 festive season when 7.7 per cent of those stopped failed a test. In 2008 the figure stood at six per cent.

The latest campaign saw police focus on drug driving. But from the 1,404 breath and field impairment tests carried out during the month, no-one was found to be impaired by drugs.

Inspector Mick Little, head of Cleveland's roads policing unit, said: "It has been very pleasing news that we have had to arrest less drivers during this year's campaign, as it appears that fewer people have been taking drugs or drinking alcohol before getting behind the wheel.

"However, there were still a number of drivers who chose to be irresponsible and drive whilst under the influence of alcohol. These people will now appear before the courts to face the consequences of their actions. It is very disappointing that there are people that consider it acceptable to risk seriously injuring or killing themselves or other innocent road users.

"Throughout the campaign there has been support from the public and we have had a number of drivers that have given us a voluntary breath sample.

"We know that the vast majority of the drivers we stop are law-abiding and would not dream of drink or drug driving.

"Throughout the year we will continue with our efforts to clamp down on drink and drug drivers in order to save lives on Cleveland's roads."

During the campaign, Hartlepool officers carried out 66 tests and two of those drivers had positive tests.

Police say the actual figure of those caught in the town will be much higher as the roads policing unit does not break down which district traffic officers carry out their tests.