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Annual crackdown on drink and drug drivers begins

30 November 2016
With the festive season approaching, police expect more people than usual will be out enjoying a drink. Dorset Police is running the annual Christmas drink and drug driving campaign from today, Thursday 1 December 2016 through to Sunday 1 January 2017. 

Dorset Police’s Roads Policing and No Excuse teams are holding a launch event at the Dolphin Shopping Centre in Poole, in conjunction with South Western Ambulance and Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service representatives. 

Officers will be engaging with members of the public, raising awareness of the inherent dangers involved in drink and drug driving and encouraging people to take responsibility this Christmas.

Throughout the month-long operation, officers will be requesting breath tests from all drivers involved in road traffic collisions, irrespective of whether or not they suspect a drink driving offence.

Drivers can expect to be tested during routine stop checks and if they are stopped for an offence. Field Impairment Tests (FIT) will be conducted on drivers suspected of being unfit to drive through drugs. 

Inspector Matt Butler, of the Alliance Roads Policing Department, said: “I have attended far too many road deaths as a direct result of drink and drug driving. I have seen far too many families devastated. 

“Alcohol and drugs impair many of the functions necessary for safe driving; reaction times and spatial awareness are affected significantly. This may still be the case the morning after, depending on how much alcohol you consumed the night before and when you stopped drinking.

“If you take the risk, you could kill or seriously injure another person. Drink and drug driving affects real people with real families. Please plan ahead this Christmas and take responsibility.”

Despite long term reductions, drink and drug driving still accounts for 15 per cent of road deaths and almost 10,000 casualties nationally each year. 

Joanne Greenwood lost her mother, Stella Osborn, aged 59, in March 2015 as a result of a head-on collision with Natalie Roach. Roach was subsequently jailed for six years for causing death by dangerous driving whilst over a prescribed drug limit.

Joanne said: “Mum was the central cog of the family. The memory of police knocking on the door bearing such tragic news still haunts me. The most harrowing and cruel part of that day was breaking the news to our children, then aged 10 and six. Their innocence was shattered in a second.”

Neil Osborn, Stella’s husband, said: “Stella was my soulmate, my best friend and my true love. Time heals, they say, but the pain never really goes away.

“I am disappointed when I hear that people still experiment with drug-taking, drinking excessively and driving without any consideration for others. It is one thing a driver in such a state risking their own life but risking others’ lives is so disheartening.”

In September 2016, Dorset Police’s No Excuse team launched Operation Dragoon. This has enhanced officers’ ability to target Dorset’s most prolific driving offenders and prevent them from causing serious injuries and fatalities on the roads. 

Sergeant Jez Strothard, of the Dorset Police No Excuse team, said: “Some individuals fail to foresee the potential consequences of their actions. If caught driving whilst under the influence, you will be risk assessed and may become one of the team’s next Operation Dragoon targets.

“Such offenders will be allocated an officer in charge, who will regularly engage with the individual, their family and their friends to deter dangerous driving behaviour. This will continue throughout any criminal proceedings and after their license is returned.

“We are confronting those who through their own choices put all road users in danger. When someone dies as a result of a collision involving a drink or drug driver, sentences can carry a penalty of up to ten years in prison. Don’t risk it, it’s never worth it.”

Dorset Police is running a short two-question survey to understand attitudes towards drink and drug driving. Visit https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/BMNDL6R to share your views. 

If you have specific information about someone who you suspect to be driving under the influence of drink or drugs, and therefore represents an immediate danger to road users, call 999. For non-urgent matters call 101. 

Alternatively call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111 or via www.crimestoppers-uk.org. 

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