Increase in arrests for drink and drug-driving during PSNI’s Christmas campaign

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) arrested 308 people on suspicion of drink or drug-driving during its Christmas campaign – an increase of nine on the previous year.

Jan 25, 2023
By Paul Jacques

During the drink-drive crackdown between December 1, 2022, and January 1, 2023, officers detected one of its highest ever evidential breath test readings, with the driver more than four times the legal limit.

The youngest person arrested for drink/drug-driving offences was 16 years old while the oldest was 83.

Commenting on the figures, Superintendent Gary Busch said, “When we launched our winter drink and drug-drive operation, we warned drivers not to take any risks by drinking or taking drugs and driving.

“Unfortunately, 308 people ignored our warning. They now find themselves facing the prospect of starting the New Year with a court appearance and losing their driving license, which may have a huge impact on their life, that of their family and possibly their career.

“Those 308 arrests reflect 308 occasions where your police service has prevented a potentially serious or fatal road traffic collision.”

He added: “It is disappointing that a minority of people continue to disregard the safety of themselves and others, by taking the incredibly dangerous risk of driving after drinking or taking drugs.”

“It is also clear from our arrests, that significantly more men than women are being detected , while almost half of those arrested were aged between 30 and 49 years of age.

“The youngest person detected was 16 years of age and the eldest 83 years of age. The highest detection was 157μg/100ml over four times the legal limit of 35μg/100ml. This detection is not only one of highest recorded, but also one of the most shocking.

“We will continue to focus our operational activity on road safety issues. We all share the roads. This means we all share the responsibility for road safety.”

Preliminary figures released on Wednesday (January 25) show PSNI officers conducted more than 9,000 preliminary breath tests (PBTs), a decrease of 6.6 per cent on the same period the previous year.

Of the 9,343 PBTs conducted, 5.1 per cent (480) resulted in a fail or failed to provide, a similar proportion when compared with the 2021/22 campaign (4.7 per cent).

The 308 arrests for drink/drug-driving related offences was an increase of three per cent compared with the previous campaign (299).

The highest number of arrests were made in Belfast (54), while Ards and North Down experienced the largest fall in arrests, from 27 to 14.

Males accounted for the majority (86.4 per cent) of those arrested for drink/drug driving offences throughout the campaign, while almost half of those arrested were between 30 and 49 years old.

The PSNI said the figures were provisional and subject to change, particularly for PBTs which are “likely to increase as more information is uploaded to the system”.

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