A sobering thought

PUBLISHED: 16:02 21 December 2006 | UPDATED: 13:42 04 May 2010

TAKE A TEST: Volunteers take part in a police-run simulator exercise to find out how they are affected by alcohol.

TAKE A TEST: Volunteers take part in a police-run simulator exercise to find out how they are affected by alcohol.

WITH the Christmas and new year celebrations just around the corner, Cambridgeshire police are out on the streets targeting drink-drivers. Last year there was a 32 per cent increase in people caught driving under the influence of drink or drugs. LESLEY IN

WITH the Christmas and new year celebrations just around the corner, Cambridgeshire police are out on the streets targeting drink-drivers. Last year there was a 32 per cent increase in people caught driving under the influence of drink or drugs.

LESLEY INNES looks at this year's campaign to trap drunk drivers and save lives.

NEW Year revellers are being asked to take a bus rather than risking killing themselves or other people by drinking and driving. The message is part of the Christmas 'don't drink and drive campaign' and urges people to enjoy themselves but to use alternative forms of transport to their car if they have been drinking alcohol.

Cambridgeshire County Council and its partners have launched the campaign to encourage people not to drink and drive after Christmas and new year parties, but to take a bus, train, taxi or share a lift.

Last year, 1,692 people were arrested for drinking and driving in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough and 133 people were injured or killed in drink driving related accidents.

Cambridgeshire police have been running their anti drink-drive campaign Stay Safe - Stay Sober since the beginning of December.

Officers have been staging stop checks across the county to breath test drivers and carry out field impairment tests to check whether drivers are under the influence of drugs.

Pc Mike McCready, the force's casualty reduction officer said: "Drink and drug driving enforcement is a vital tool in the reduction of fatal and injury collisions.

"Our message is clear - if you drive under the influence of drink and drugs expect to be caught and brought to justice."

The maximum penalty for drink-driving is a six-month prison sentence, £5,000 fine and a driving ban of up to 12 months.

Last year, the number of people caught driving under the influence of drink and drugs increased by 32 per cent, with 197 people arrested.

Pc McCready added: "It was disappointing to see last year's figures increase and it demonstrates that there are still a number of drivers who think it is acceptable to drive under the influence.

"Cambridgeshire Constabulary is committed to reducing the number of drink-drivers and we will do all we can to ensure that those over the limit or under the influence of drugs are caught and dealt with appropriately. Drink and drug drivers are not only putting their own lives at risk but also the lives of others."

Debbie Maith, road safety officer for Cambridgeshire County Council said: "Christmas and new year are a time to enjoy yourself and we certainly want people to have a good time at the various parties being held. But we also want to make sure they get home safely and avoid drinking and driving.

"There is no doubt that drinking and driving ruins lives. We are calling for motorists to plan ahead if they are going to a party and either stick to soft drinks or take a bus, train, taxi or share a lift to get home."

In England and Wales, drinking and driving causes the death or serious injury of more than 3,000 people each year. Coroner's data suggests that nationally 16 per cent of all fatal accidents involve illegal alcohol levels.

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