29/11/2019

Police Step Up Roadside Breath Testing

Police have warned anyone who takes the "unacceptable risk" of driving while impaired by drink or drugs to expect to be detected by police.

It comes as the annual winter Anti-Drink and Drug Drive operation is launched, with officers to step up their efforts to catch those who chose to break the law while driving.

Some 11,500 people were given preliminary roadside breath tests during last year's campaign, with 322 of those failing and being arrested.

Unfortunately, police expect to see this pattern replicated again and plan to intensify their operations to detect drink and drug drivers.

Some 47 people have been killed on the roads in Northern Ireland this year, while many others are recovering from serious and life changing injuries, police have said.

Launched on Thursday 28 November, the operation will run until Wednesday 01 January and will involve road policing officers, local and neighbourhood policing teams working alongside TSG units across the country.

Legislation introduced in 2016 now permits police officers to carry out random breath tests at authorised vehicle checkpoints as a visible and physical deterrent from driving while under the influence.

In addition to authorised operations, every driver or motorcyclist stopped by police, whether for speeding, using a mobile phone, or committing any moving traffic offence can expect to be breathalysed.

Likewise, anyone involved in a collision or who police suspect may have consumed alcohol or taken drugs will be tested.

Assistant Chief Constable Alan Todd said: "If you take the unacceptable risk of driving after drinking or taking drugs, you can expect to be detected by police. You can expect to be prosecuted and lose your driving license. If you cause a collision in which someone is killed or seriously injured, you can expect a custodial sentence.
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"I have no sympathy for the people we detected last year who found it difficult, embarrassing or shameful to explain to their family, friends or work colleagues that they had been caught drink or drug driving and were likely to receive a driving ban.

"My sympathy is with those families, friends and communities across Northern Ireland who have been forced to deal with the death or serious injury of a loved one, because someone selfishly thought it acceptable to drive while under the influence. Whether that was after one drink, a night out, or getting behind the wheel the morning after."

Targeted operations will run day and night over the coming weeks, and police will coordinate road safety operations in border counties with colleagues from An Garda Síochána Traffic Corp.

Assistant Chief Constable Todd continued: "It's disappointing that despite our repeated and well publicised warnings, a minority of people continue to disregard the safety of themselves and others by taking the shameful and incredibly dangerous risk of driving after drinking or taking drugs.

"Our message is very simple. Never EVER drink and drive. Just one drink can impair decision making. Just one drink can cause a collision. Just one drink could kill.

"I appreciate many people will people will be planning on meeting up with family, friends and colleagues in the weeks ahead to have a drink and enjoy the festivities. Our appeal is that everyone should also plan how to get home safely. Road users also need be aware of pedestrians who may have been drinking, in built up areas where they may suddenly step or fall into your path, or who may be walking along unlit rural roads during the hours of darkness."

He concluded: "We all share the roads, so we all share the responsibility for road safety. Slow down. Never drive after drinking or taking drugs. Pay greater attention to your surroundings, and always wear your seatbelt. If everyone follows this advice, then together we can save lives on our roads."



(JG/CM)

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