Roadside breathalyser checks set to double as police start Christmas drink-drive crackdown

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Drivers warned of drink-driving dangers amid festive parties and World Cup fever

Motorists are being warned that the chances of them being subject to a breathalyser test are set to double in coming weeks.

As the Christmas party season begins and England continues to succeed at the football World Cup, police forces around the country are set to step up roadside checks for drink-drivers as part of an annual crackdown.

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Last year that crackdown saw police forces in England and Wales stop more than twice as many motorists on suspicion of drink driving in December than in any other month. Figures show officers stopped 37,067 compared with the average of 16,977 for the rest of the year. Of those, 3,840 (10%) were found to be over the limit or refused to provide a sample.

Hunter Abbott, managing director of breathalyser firm AlcoSense, said that with the added interest around the World Cup on top of the usual seasonal parties, it was more important than ever that drivers understand the effects of drink driving.

He commented: “Watching an evening game, whether at home with family or down the pub, increases the likelihood of driving the next morning with alcohol still in your system. If you drink four pints of medium-strong beer or four large glasses of wine whilst enjoying the football, it could take as long as 14 hours for the alcohol to clear your system. The rule is simple.  If you’ve been drinking, don’t drive and if you’re driving, don’t drink.”

Government figures estimate that 6,480 people were killed or injured in drink drive accidents in 2020, with drunk drivers accounting for 15% of road deaths. Even with just 10mg per 100mL of alcohol in your blood (one eighth of the legal limit in England and Wales) you are 37% more likely to be involved in a fatal accident than when completely sober, research shows.

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Figures from 2020 show that although enforcement action increased across the country there were large discrepancies in the number of tests carried out. While in Durham 2,567 motorists were tested last December, in Lincolnshire it was just 23. Other areas where large numbers of tests were performed included Lancashire (2,294), Essex (1,522) and Humberside (1,408).

The police figures also show big discrepancies in the percentage of motorists failing their breath test. In Cleveland, the area with the third highest number of tests (1,878), the failure rate was just 3%. But in West Yorkshire, where 523 tests were conducted, a worrying 29% were over the limit. Other regions with far higher than average failure rates included Suffolk (24%), Kent (21%), Greater Manchester (20%) and Wiltshire (20%).

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