AT the launch of this year’s winter anti-drink and drug drive operation, police have warned motorists that if detected driving while impaired, the consequences are much more serious than a hangover.
During last year’s operation, 11,500 people were given preliminary roadside breath tests, with 322 people failing those tests and being arrested.
In addition this year the police will conduct roadside impairment tests for the presence of drugs as required.
Assistant Chief Constable Alan Todd explained: “I have no sympathy for the people we detected last year who found it difficult, embarrassing or shameful to explain to their family, friends or work colleagues that they had been caught drink or drug driving and were likely to receive a driving ban.
“My sympathy is with those families, friends and communities across Northern Ireland who have been forced to deal with the death or serious injury of a loved one, because someone selfishly thought it acceptable to drive while under the influence. Whether that was after one drink, a night out, or getting behind the wheel the morning after.
“If you take the unacceptable risk of driving after drinking or taking drugs, you can expect to be detected by police. You can expect to be prosecuted and lose your driving license. If you cause a collision in which someone is killed or seriously injured, you can expect a custodial sentence.
“The stark reality is that so far this year, 47 families across Northern Ireland are coping with the death of loved one because of a road traffic collision. Many others are recovering from serious and life changing injuries. As a result, there are drivers having to face the fact that their actions have caused a fatal collision.”
The police operation, which runs from today (November 28) through until January 1, will involve road policing officers, local and neighbourhood policing teams working alongside TSG units across the country.
Once again, police will be using legislation first introduced in 2016, to carry out random breath tests at authorised vehicle checkpoints as a very visible deterrent.
Over the coming weeks, targeted operations will run day and night, and police will coordinate road safety operations in border counties with colleagues from An Garda Síochána Traffic Corp.
Assistant Chief Constable Todd continued: “It’s disappointing that despite our repeated and well publicised warnings, a minority of people continue to disregard the safety of themselves and others by taking the shameful and incredibly dangerous risk of driving after drinking or taking drugs.”
Our message is very simple. Never EVER drink and drive. Just one drink can impair decision making. Just one drink can cause a collision. Just one drink could kill.
“In addition to our authorised checkpoints, every driver or motorcyclist stopped by police, whether for speeding, using a mobile phone, or committing any moving traffic offence can expect to be breathalysed. Anyone involved in a collision or who we suspect may have consumed alcohol or taken drugs will be tested.
“I appreciate many people will be planning on meeting up with family, friends and colleagues in the weeks ahead to have a drink and enjoy the festivities.
“Our appeal is that everyone should also plan how to get home safely. Road users also need be aware of pedestrians who may have been drinking, in built up areas where they may suddenly step or fall into your path, or who may be walking along unlit rural roads during the hours of darkness.”
Assistant Chief Constable Todd concluded: “We all share the roads, so we all share the responsibility for road safety. Slow down. Never drive after drinking or taking drugs. Pay greater attention to your surroundings, and always wear your seat belt. If everyone follows this advice, then together we can save lives on our roads.”