Today (Thursday, 1 June) marks the start of the annual Summer Drink and Drug Drive campaign and Merseyside Police is appealing to people to continue to drive responsibly this summer.
During last year’s campaign Merseyside Police arrested 283 motorists in June and July.
Of the 283 people, 164 were arrested for drink drive offences such as failing a breath test or refusing to give one, and 119 drivers tested positive for drugs such as cannabis or cocaine.
For those breathalysed, 3.5 per cent failed and were arrested. For those tested for drugs, 36 per cent failed and were taken into custody.
Four out of five drink drivers were men and nine out of ten drug drivers were also male. For both offences, the majority of drivers arrested were aged between 25 and 49 years of age who were caught driving between 9pm and 3am, most often at weekends.
Inspector Keith Kellett said: "Year on year, our officers’ conduct thousands of breath tests in campaigns such as these, and last year saw numerous arrests. We will continue to stop drivers, be it in the morning, afternoon or evening and carry out breath tests. My message is simple – enjoy a drink but do not take the car. The risks are enormous and simply not worth it.
"Alcohol can remain in your system for many hours and you may still be over the limit the following day. Remember, drinks poured at home tend to be larger and there is no one calling “last orders”. If you are driving the following day, leaving it 12 hours before getting behind the wheel is advisable.
"Anyone caught drink driving faces a twelve month driving ban and a fine of up to £5000. There is also the risk of losing their job and the added pain to their families.
"I’d like to remind drivers your ability to drive can be affected by even a modest amount of alcohol. Even if you are below the legal limit, alcohol still affects your judgement, placing you, your passengers and other road users at risk."
Since the introduction of the drug driving offence, introduced in March 2015, it is now an offence to drive whilst over the specified limit, set for 17 drugs including cannabis and cocaine. Last year, 80% of drivers arrested for being unfit through drugs had used these two drugs. The list of drugs also includes those found in some medicines.
Inspector Kellett added: "We will continue to carry out roadside impairment tests on drivers suspected to be impaired by drugs. However, we can additionally test drivers at the roadside using hand held and portable drug testing equipment and arrest if the result is positive. The simple presence of the drug may be sufficient to leave someone facing a driving ban and a significant fine.
"Those people who take prescribed medicines and who follow the instructions on the packaging or from their doctor needn’t worry and should continue to take their medicines. However, they should be aware that exceeding the dosage can have a significant effect on their driving, placing themselves and others in danger and also at risk of arrest. Only those who abuse their dosage need be concerned. Anyone in any doubt should speak to their doctor."
If you know or suspect someone is driving whilst under the influence of alcohol or drugs, then please contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.