Police arrested 29 for drink and drug driving over Christmas

Police arrested 29 people in Derry and Strabane on suspicion of drink or drug driving between December 1, 2022 and January 1, 2023, five more than during the same period last year.

Across the north as a whole there were 308 arrests, an increase of nine year-on-year.

The figures are contained in a new bulletin summarising the results of the PSNI Christmas drink driving campaign 2022/23, specifically the outcomes of Preliminary Breath Tests (PBTs) and drink/drug driving arrests.

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The PSNI said the figures are provisional and subject to change, particularly for PBTs which are likely to increase as more information is uploaded to the system.

There was an increase in drink and drug driving detections in Derry and Strabane over the Christmas period compared with 2021.

Superintendent Gary Busch said: “When we launched our winter drink and drug drive operation, we warned drivers not to take any risks by drinking or taking drugs and driving.

“Unfortunately, 308 people ignored our warning. They now find themselves facing the prospect of starting the New Year with a court appearance and losing their driving license, which may have a huge impact on their life, that of their family and possibly their career.

“Those 308 arrests reflect 308 occasions where your police service has prevented a potentially serious or fatal road traffic collision.

“It is disappointing that a minority of people continue to disregard the safety of themselves and others, by taking the incredibly dangerous risk of driving after drinking or taking drugs.”

During the Christmas drink drive campaign, initial figures show that PSNI officers conducted over 9,000 PBTs, a decrease of 6.6 per cent on the same period last year.

Of the 9,343 PBTs conducted, 5.1 per cent (480) resulted in a fail or failed to provide, a similar proportion when compared with the 2021/22 campaign (4.7 per cent).

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The bulletin shows that a vast majority of the drink and drug drivers were men (266). Younger drivers aged between 18 and 49 also accounted for a majority of detections (253).

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Sup/t. Busch said: “It is also clear from our arrests, that significantly more men than women are being detected (males accounted for 86.4% of arrests), while almost half of those arrested were aged between 30 and 49 years of age.

“The youngest person detected was 16 years of age and the eldest 83 years of age. The highest detection was 157μg/100ml over four times the legal limit of 35μg/100ml. This detection is not only one of highest recorded, but also one of the most shocking.

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“Our message is clear. Never EVER drink and drive. Just one drink can impair decision making. Just one drink can cause a collision. Just one drink could kill.”

“We will continue to focus our operational activity on road safety issues. We all share the roads. This means we all share the responsibility for road safety.

“Slow down. Pay greater attention to your surroundings. Always wear your seat belt and Never drive after drinking or taking drugs.”

The bulletin shows the highest evidential breath test reading recorded over the campaign was 157μg/100ml.

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The youngest person arrested for drink/drug driving offences during the 2022/23 campaign was 16 years old while the oldest was 83 years old.