Christmas crackdown on drink and drug-drivers in Sussex set to launch

Sussex Police is preparing to launch its 2019 Christmas crackdown on drink and drug-drivers.

Increased patrols and stop checks will be carried out throughout the month, police said, when there tends to be more social occasions which could result in motorists driving under the influence.

The crackdown runs from Wednesday, December 18, to Wednesday, January 1, 2020, inclusive, in line with guidance from the National Police Chief’s Council – however, this will be in addition to routine daily policing, a spokesman said.

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Chief Inspector Michael Hodder, of the Surrey and Sussex Roads Policing Unit, said: “Christmas is typically considered a time of ‘giving’ and ‘sharing’. But don’t give us an excuse to arrest you, and don’t let us share the bad news with your loved ones if you’re involved in a collision.

Sussex Police is set to launch its Christmas crackdown on drink and drug-drivers

“This campaign is all about education and enforcement. Our main aims are to save lives by deterring people from drink and drug-driving, and to deal robustly with offenders. As such, we will continue to publicise the names of those convicted as part of the campaign.”

A total of 1,003 people were killed or seriously injured in road traffic collisions in Sussex last year, police said, 74 of which involved a drink-driver (statistics from the Sussex Safer Roads Partnership).

During the same campaign last year (December 1, 2018, to January 1, 2019), 240 arrests were made in Sussex, police said.

Chief Insp Hodder said: “While this is a dedicated campaign which occurs twice a year during peak periods – at Christmas and in the summer – we still respond to reports of drink and drug-drivers 365 days a year.

Increased patrols and stop checks will be carried out in Sussex throughout the month

“It is no secret that drink and drug-driving destroys lives. It happens year on year and sadly, despite our repeated warnings, there will always be a minority of selfish and shameful individuals who still continue to put the lives of themselves and others at risk.”

He continued: “If you’re going to consume drink or drugs, we’d encourage you to plan ahead – walk home, book a taxi, take public transport or get a lift with a sober driver. Never get into a vehicle with someone you know is over the limit.

“If you’re planning to drive after ‘just a couple’, it’s more than likely you’ll be over the limit. The only way to guarantee you’re under the limit is to drink OR drive; never both.

“Also be mindful of the amount of time it takes for substances to leave your body. Even if you’ve slept for several hours, you could still be over the limit the next morning. And a coffee and a cold shower won’t speed up the process.”

A total of 240 arrests were made in Sussex during the Christmas campaign last year

The Sussex Safer Roads Partnership has a morning after calculator on its website, where you can find out roughly how long it takes before you can safely drive.

Consequences of drink and drug driving could include the following:

• Killing or seriously injuring yourself or someone else;

• A minimum 12 month ban;

• An unlimited fine;

• A possible prison sentence;

• A criminal record, which could affect your current and future employment;

• An increase in your car insurance costs;

• Trouble travelling to countries such as the USA.

Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne said: “I am still dismayed by the number of people who get behind the wheel of their vehicle when they are under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. It shows their contempt for the law and reckless disregard for other road users and pedestrians.

“Last month I held the first Road Safety Summit for Sussex and this was a top concern for residents. I know that they have no sympathy for those who kill or seriously injure when under the influence, so the ‘naming and shaming’ technique of this campaign should act as a deterrent.

“The message now and all year round is clear – drink or drive – don’t put other people’s lives at risk. If you are caught driving under the influence expect to face the consequences.”

If you know someone is driving while over the limit or after taking drugs, call 999.

Alternatively, people in Sussex can text officers on 65999 with the details of people they suspect of drink or drug-driving, or visit the Operation Crackdown website.

You can also contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or report it online.

The campaign is being run in conjunction with the Sussex Safer Roads Partnership and DriveSmart in Surrey.