Xmas Drink Drive Campaign

Kent police are warning they will take a zero tolerance approach to drink driving as they launch their annual Christmas road safety campaign.

Officers will be doing stop checks across the county over the next month, targeting anyone they suspect is under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The checks will also involve examining the safety of the vehicle and ensuring any passengers are wearing seatbelts.

Those charged will could then appear before a magistrate as soon as they have sobered up, using virtual court technology - a video link up between police stations and courts.

If they are found to be guilty then the magistrate has the power to ban the defendant from driving, with immediate effect.
The use of virtual courts was trialled as part of the drink-drive crackdown last year, with 17 people appearing before a magistrate via the high tech video network. In one case a motorist was banned from driving no less than 90 minutes after being charged with driving under the influence of drink.

Deputy Chief Constable Alan Pughsley explains: "Usually motorists will be charged with drink driving and be bailed to appear before the court some weeks later.

"This means until a guilty verdict is reached they are free to drive. The use of the virtual court system means that the defendant risks losing their licence on the day of charge."

Police say their message to drivers is simple: if you are driving, stay sober and alert - or risk losing your licence. They are advising people to carefully plan their journeys and book a taxi, use a designated driver or public transport if you are going to drink. 

Two people are killed in collisions on Kent's roads each week, and one in six of those deaths involve someone driving under the influence of drink or drugs.

Deputy Chief Constable Alan Pughsley said: "Before getting behind the wheel ask yourself 'is it worth it?' The consequences of drink driving are severe. You could kill yourself or an innocent party, you risk losing your job and your reputation.

"Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is selfish and anti-social. In addition to being banned from driving you could receive a criminal record and a fine of up to £5,000."

The campaign will run from 1 December 2011 to 1 January 2012.