Concern Over Drink Driving Increase

6 January 2012, 15:48 | Updated: 20 January 2012, 07:17

Safety campaigners said today that warnings over drink-drinking were failing as new national figures showed young drivers are still the worst offenders.

More than 7,200 people were arrested during the Christmas and New Year crackdown, the Association of Chief Police Officers said. About 157,000 drivers were stopped and tested over that same time in England and Wales.

In the Thames Valley there were 299 people arrested for driving over the legal limit between December 1, 2011 and January 1, 2012.

That's compared to 261 during the force's campaign in 2010.

8 out of 10 people caught were men while the number of women arrested went up from 35 in 2010 to 55 last year.

Supt Chris Brown, Head of Roads Policing, said it's disappointing to see a rise in the number of people who don't accept the dangers of drink driving:

"Although Operation Tipple finished on 1 January, we will continue to pursue those who choose to drink and drive and put other road users at risk.

"Clearly the message is that if you drink and drive you can expect to get caught and receive a driving ban. The message is simple - If you’ve been drinking, don’t drive. It’s not worth the risk."

The highest number of arrests were in Berkshire with 120, in Buckinghamshire it was 102 compared to 77 last year while 77 people were over the limit in Oxfordshire, up by 13 on the previous year.

A 37-year-old man from Banbury was caught almost 4 times over the drink drive limit and will appear before Banbury Magistrates' Court on Friday 20 January.

In Hampshire police arrested 240 people who had got behind the wheel after drinking alcohol, with 176 already charged.

Neil Greig, of the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM), said it was worrying that young drivers continue to have a higher rate of offending at 5.7% compared with 4% of over-25s.

"Our research shows that half of young drivers don't know how much they can drink and still be under the limit, so the message is not getting through to them,'' he said.

"This suggests that lack of education and confusion over safe limits in today's drinking culture of huge glasses and ever changing alcoholic mixes may be a key factor in drink-driving, especially for this age group.''

The campaign ran from December 1 to January 1 with officers from 43 forces testing drivers at all times of the day and night.