A TOTAL of 154 drivers were arrested during a Christmas crack down on drink and drug driving in Essex.
The campaign, led by the Safer Essex Roads Partnership, is the first Christmas anti-drink and drug driving campaign during which officers have been able to use roadside drug testing kits introduced last year.
Between November 30, 2015 and January 4, 2016, 53 drivers were tested using the kits which identify the presence of eight possible illegal drugs including cannabis and cocaine. Of those tested, 22 (41.5%) gave a positive result and were arrested.
A total of 1,984 drivers were breathalysed. Of those breathalysed, 79 drivers (3.98%) were over the limit or refused or failed to provide a sample of breath.
A further 53 drivers were arrested on suspicion of drug and/or drink driving offences and taken to custody to be breathalysed and/or drug tested rather than at the roadside.
The campaign forms part of the SERP ‘No excuse for poor driving’ umbrella campaign which is used to deliver a range of road safety messages covering issues like seatbelts, mobile phones, speed limits and anti-social driving.
During the 2014 Christmas anti-drink and drug driving campaign, 175 drivers were arrested. A total of 2429 drivers were breathalysed and 143 (5.8%) were found to be driving over the legal alcohol limit or refused or failed to provide a sample. A further 32 were arrested in connection with drug driving legislation.
Essex Police first started using the drug testing wipes in April 2015 to coincide with the new drug driving legislation and has since invested in more using cash seized from criminals under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
Adam Pipe, Casualty Reduction Manager at Essex Police, said: “The new drug testing kits are a fantastic tool in roads policing. Just like drink driving, drug driving puts not only the life of the driver at risk but the lives of other innocent road users too. Our message is clear – if you regularly take drugs and drive it is only a matter of time before you are caught and put before the courts.
“This campaign may have come to an end but that doesn’t mean our efforts to identify drink and drug drivers have. Drink and drug driving aren’t just about Christmas – these are crime that ruin lives 365 days a year and the community has a significant part to play in helping us to keep the roads safe.
“Our resources now have to stretch further so we have to take a more targeted approach to road safety. We are able to target our patrols more specifically when we have received intelligence about people who drink or take drugs and drive.
“Our efforts can only be strengthened by the flow of information from members of the public so I’m asking anyone with information about people who drink or take drugs and drive to report it. We will act upon information we receive so please tell us what you know and help keep the roads of Essex safe.”
You can report drink or drug drivers by:
1. Dialling 999 if you know someone is drunk or has taken drugs and you see them getting behind the wheel of a car
2. Calling Essex Police on 101 to give police information about someone who regularly chooses to drink and drive
3. Telling Crimestoppers anonymously about people who repeatedly drink and drive by calling 0800 555 111 or visiting www.crimestoppers-uk.orgYou won’t have to give your name, no personal details are recorded and you won’t have to go to court.
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