Rise in festive drink drivers

Justice Secretary Michael Matheson (centre).
Justice Secretary Michael Matheson (centre).
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The proportion of drivers stopped by police who were found to be over the limit during the festive period has risen, from 2.8% to 3.3% in a year.

Police Scotland’s four-week enforcement campaign saw an average of 610 drivers tested every day, a 15% rise in the number of checks carried out the year before.

Of the almost 19,000 drivers stopped during the 2016/17 festive period campaign, a total of 625 – or 1 in 30 – were over the limit, compared with 1 in 36 – during the same period in 2015/16.

More than 9% of those caught drink driving tested between the old and new limits, up on 4% the previous year.

Of the 625 detected, 46 were caught in the morning having been drinking the night before, up from 13 in 2015/16.

The Police Scotland period of enforcement coincided with a Scottish Government awareness campaign to reinforce the message that ‘the best approach is none’.

Justice Secretary Michael Matheson said: “It is hugely disappointing to see a rise in the number of drivers who have flouted the law and put their lives, and the lives of others, at risk over the festive period.

“Of course people should be enjoying time with their loved ones over Christmas and New Year but this isn’t an excuse to ignore the law and get behind the wheel after drinking alcohol.

“By drink driving, including the morning after, you are not only putting yourselves at risk, but also facing a minimum one year driving ban, a criminal record, points on your licence and a substantial fine. Please remember, the best approach is none.”

Assistant Chief Constable Bernard Higgins said: “It is an absolute disgrace that so many people were prepared to risk their own lives, as well as the lives of innocent people, by recklessly taking to the roads while in a drunken state. We were massively active over the festive season and while the number of tests we carried out was greater than last year, proportionately the number of people caught, particularly those the following morning, was greater still.

“Drivers need to take far greater personal responsibility, and also be aware that while this campaign is over, my officers still have a very sharp focus on detecting and arresting drunk drivers. I repeat the guidance given at the start of the campaign - don’t risk it, because - as these 625 people have found to their cost - we will detect and arrest you.”