Led by North Wales Police, the month-long All Wales Summer Anti Drink and Drug Drive Campaign throughout June, will see all four Welsh police forces increase the pressure and focus on those drivers who drink and drive or drive under the influence of drugs.
Sergeant Alun Davies from North Wales Police’ Roads Policing Unit said: “We all enjoy the prospect of longer evenings and the possibilities they present for socialising in homes, gardens, local pubs, festivals and other events.
“But there is a price to be paid for thinking that, if you drink or take drugs and get behind the wheel, you will still be safe. More people may be tempted to have a few drinks and may drive without thinking of the consequences.
“Think before you go out, watch what you drink and plan how you will get home.
“This summer will be the first campaign with the new drug testing kits to help detect cannabis and cocaine as well as standard kits for alcohol testing, so we are better equipped than ever to detect and penalise those who take this very dangerous risk. Using intelligence received from the public we’ll be ready for action to keep the road network safe, whether it be at night or the morning after.”
New legislation came into force in March 2015 which sets legal limits for how much of a substance – both illegal drugs and prescription medications motorists can have in their system whilst driving. A new device now allows officers to test at the roadside using a swab from inside the driver’s mouth, to see if a motorist has taken cannabis or cocaine.
Officers made their first arrest the day after the new legislation came into being – a 19-year-old man from Anglesey was arrested following a damage-only road traffic collision in Holyhead. He was subsequently charged and appeared before the town’s Magistrates where he was disqualified from driving for 18 months and received fines totalling £305.
Between March 4th and May 28th North Wales Police’ Roads Policing Unit have carried out 61 drug swipe tests using the new kits with 18 of those testing positive.
North Wales Police has a robust strategy around enforcing the ‘Fatal 5’ offences which are drink and drug driving, dangerous driving including unnecessary risk taking, speeding, failing to wear a seatbelt and using a mobile phone whilst driving.
Sergeant Davies added: “We are committed to assisting in reducing the risk of becoming a casualty on the road through the use of targeted operations around high risk groups of people and locations while enforcing the ‘Fatal 5’ offences.”
“If you drink and drive or drive under the influence of drugs you will potentially not only ruin your life, but the lives of others innocently associated with you and your actions. There is absolutely no excuse for driving impaired and the consequences can be devastating.
“You not only risk killing or seriously injuring yourself or someone else, but you will end up in court and could face a fine, lose your licence or receive a jail sentence. You will have a criminal record and you could lose your job.”
Susan Storch, Chair of Road Safety Wales, added: “Through education, training and publicity initiatives throughout Wales, partners in Road Safety Wales strive to remind road users of the risks and consequences of the ‘Fatal 5’. Unfortunately, despite education and warnings, too many drivers are prepared to risk driving whilst impaired by drink or drugs.
“Road Safety Wales is committed to reducing the number of road casualties caused by irresponsible behaviour and will continue to support our Police colleagues during this campaign and throughout the year. Drivers who choose to flout the law should realise that there is a strong chance that they will be detected and prosecuted and that the penalties will be severe.”
Also supporting this year’s campaign is the Welsh Ambulance Service.
Rhyl Paramedic Dermot O’Leary, the Welsh Ambulance Service’s road safety champion said: “Road traffic collisions are sudden tragic events which can send shockwaves through families, friends and communities. Unfortunately too many drivers are still prepared to risk driving under the influence of drink or drugs. Making the public aware of the risks associated with drink and drug driving will hopefully lead to fewer incidents in which we literally have to pick up the pieces.”
Stuart Millington, Senior Fire Safety Manager, North Wales Fire and Rescue Service said: “Firefighters attend many road traffic collisions every year and witness some of the horrific consequences of simple mistakes made every day by people behind the wheel. We are pleased to be supporting the launch of this Drink and Drug Drive campaign to try and educate the public about the dangers associated with drinking and then driving.”
* Anyone with information regarding individuals who are believed to drive whilst over the legal limit or under the influence of drugs, can contact North Wales Police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.