1. ITV Report

Police continue to target drink and drug drivers in 2019 after successful campaign

Police have vowed to continue taking drink and drug drivers off North Yorkshire’s roads during 2019 following a “very encouraging” Christmas enforcement campaign.

The number of drink and drug drivers arrested across the county fell significantly this December compared to last, with lower average breathalyser readings and far fewer heavily-intoxicated drivers.

Credit: PA

It suggests more motorists have taken heed of warnings, police said today after the county-wide campaign drew to a close, but officers acknowledge there is still a lot of work to do to reduce numbers further.

Between December 1 and January 1, 123 motorists were arrested in North Yorkshire on suspicion of drink or drug driving offences.

This is a drop of 10% on last year’s figures, when 137 arrests were made.

The average alcohol breathalyser reading dropped from 76mg/100ml last year to 64mg/100ml this year. The legal limit is 35mg.

And the number of suspects providing very high readings – more than three times over the legal drink drive limit – also fell significantly this year, from 13 in 2017 to just three in 2018. This reflects a reduction of 77%.

Speaking as the campaign concluded, Traffic Sergeant Andy Morton of North Yorkshire Police, said:

While there are many factors that influence the number of arrests we make, the across-the-board reduction in a number of key figures is very encouraging.

“The fact we have had to arrest 10% fewer motorists this year, combined with the lower average breath test results and significantly fewer drivers blowing very high readings, suggests people may have taken notice of the Christmas campaign messages of 95 Alive, North Yorkshire’s road safety partnership. It suggests they have also been deterred by our enforcement action and decided it’s not worth the risk of driving while under the influence.

“However, it’s still concerning that we’ve had to arrest 123 drivers in such a short space of time, and this still included some very high readings. There is absolutely no excuse for drink or drug driving and no reason for anyone to do it.

“While we focus our resources on a Christmas campaign due to the spike in offending at this time of year, we’ll continue to work with our 95 Alive road safety partners on education campaigns to change behaviours and carry out enforcement work throughout 2019 to get as many drink and drug drivers as possible banned from North Yorkshire’s roads.

“When we respond to crashes involving drunk or drugged-up drivers, we witness the indescribable carnage they cause to themselves and innocent people. If you saw what I saw, I guarantee you’d never even consider driving under the influence.”

– Andy Morton

This year, North Yorkshire’s campaign was not solely aimed at telling people not to drink or drug drive.

It urged law-abiding people who’d never dream of driving under the influence to help police by keeping an eye on friends and family during nights out and ensure they didn’t get behind the wheel if they were unfit to drive. It also encouraged them to share information about drink or drug drivers with police.

The campaign used first-hand accounts of officers who have attended serious drink or drug drive collisions, or passed death messages to the families of victims, under the strapline “If you saw what I saw, you’d never drink or drug drive”.

Dates have been set aside at magistrates courts across North Yorkshire to deal with those charged with drink and drug driving offences. So far, four of those arrested during the campaign have been sentenced, with large fines and driving bans ranging from 12 to 20 months. The remainder will appear in court during January and February.

The campaign in numbers for between December 1 and January 1:

  • 123 arrests on suspicion of drink or drug driving
  • 4 arrests per day on average
  • 86% of those arrested were men
  • 64mg/100ml was the average breathalyser reading (the legal limit is 35mg/100ml)
  • 63 months is the combined length of driving bans given to the four drivers who have been sentenced
  • Rest of the cases are due in court during January and February
  • 6 failed to provide a specimen – an offence that carries its own charge
  • 141mg/100ml was the highest recorded breathalyser reading

Regional breakdown of arrests, by district:

  • 35 in Scarborough
  • 31 in York
  • 20 in Harrogate
  • 11 in Craven
  • 9 in Ryedale
  • 8 in Selby
  • 6 in Hambleton
  • 3 in Richmond