The annual Christmas drink and drug drive campaign saw Devon & Cornwall Police target those who drive while under the influence.
In total, Devon & Cornwall Police recorded 233 arrests during the December 2022 initiative – of which 144 were on suspicion of drink driving, 84 on suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs, and five on suspicion of failing to provide a sample for analysis. Some drivers were arrested on suspicion of multiple offences.
The Christmas Operation Limit campaign, which ran between Thursday 1 December 2022 and Sunday 1 January 2023, was an increase on the equivalent period the previous year that saw a total of 188 drink and drug drive arrests.
Of the 144 people arrested on suspicion of drink driving related offences, 113 were men, 30 were women and one unknown. The youngest was 17 years old and the oldest was 72, with the average age of those arrested being 38 years old.
For suspected drug driving related offences, the driver was asked to complete a roadside swab. If this swab was positive, they were arrested and a blood sample was taken at custody for analysis. These bloods are currently being examined before any potential charges are brought.
Of the 84 people arrested on suspicion of drug driving related offences, 76 were men, seven were women and one unknown. The youngest was 16 years old and the oldest was 67, with the average age of those arrested being 34 years old.
During the campaign, the Force encouraged those out enjoying a drink during the festive period to plan how to get home without driving. The ‘Lift Legend’ campaign saw Devon & Cornwall Police partner with over 90 venues across the two counties to offer free drinks to those who agreed to be the designated driver for their group.
Motorists were reminded of the potential consequences of driving while under the influence and the continuing effects that alcohol and drugs can have the morning after.
Superintendent Ryan Doyle, of the specialist operations department, said: “Too many people who are otherwise law-abiding citizens, fail to consider the untold devastation that drink and drug driving can cause – those arrested were not necessarily your ‘usual’ suspects.
“While it is disappointing to see a 24 per cent increase in the number of people arrested on suspicion of drink and drug drive related offences versus last year, I am pleased our increased efforts to tackle those drivers who are potentially a danger on our roads has resulted in a number of arrests.
“This year, we have continued to place a greater emphasis on encouraging those planning a night out to think about how they’re getting home. I would like to thank the venues that took part in our ‘Lift Legend’ campaign for their support in helping to keep their customers and wider road users safe.
“I, and too many of my colleagues have been the person knocking on the door to inform relatives that their loved one has been killed as a result of a motorist who thinks it is okay to get behind the wheel while under the influence. The pain this causes to victims’ families and loved ones is devastating, and entirely preventable.
“As in previous years, I would like to thank those members of the public who called us to report a drink driver. Our enforcement efforts will of course continue all year round and intelligence from the public is invaluable in keeping our roads safe.”
Alison Hernandez, Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, is also chairman of the Vision Zero South West road safety partnership who supported the Force’s drink and drug driving campaign over Christmas.
The Commissioner said: “There is absolutely no excuse for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. It is a selfish act that needlessly endangers the lives of innocent people.
“While I’m dismayed that this many drivers have seen fit to undertake this lethal activity over the festive period, I am glad that so many have been caught and will now face justice for their crime.
“As well as being incredibly dangerous, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol also carries a driving ban, which will cost some people their jobs, their livelihoods and even their families. In some cases you could even end up in prison. It’s just not worth it.”
If you suspect someone of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, please dial 999 immediately with the vehicle information and direction of travel.
For non-urgent matters, or to pass information about someone who regularly drives under the influence of drugs or alcohol, please go to www.dc.police.uk or call 101.