Sussex Police make '6,000 vehicle stops' in drink and drug driving campaign: This is how many people were arrested

Sussex Police has revealed the total number of arrests made during a campaign to target drink and drug drivers.
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Sussex Police said the national operation, at Christmas, ‘saw consistently high results for the second year running’, with more than 6,600 motorists arrested for offences.

A spokesperson explained: “Many police forces undertake a proactive operation around Christmas each year to increase breath testing and targeted vehicle stops for drivers suspected of being under the influence.

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“Christmas 2022 saw the first national operation, called Operation Limit, to coordinate this activity across the country – bringing together all police forces in a concerted effort to remove drink and drug drivers from our roads.

The national policing operation, at Christmas, ‘saw consistently high results for the second year running’, with more than 6,600 motorists arrested for offences. Photo: Sussex PoliceThe national policing operation, at Christmas, ‘saw consistently high results for the second year running’, with more than 6,600 motorists arrested for offences. Photo: Sussex Police
The national policing operation, at Christmas, ‘saw consistently high results for the second year running’, with more than 6,600 motorists arrested for offences. Photo: Sussex Police

“[Christmas] 2023 saw all police forces take part in the operation, engaging in education and awareness events, communications around the risks of driving under the influence, targeted vehicle stops in hot spot areas and intelligence led patrols.”

In Sussex, officers completed nearly 6,000 vehicle stops, and made 115 arrests for offences relating to drink-driving, and 146 arrests for motorists for offences relating to drug-driving, the police force for the county revealed.

A spokesperson added: “Meanwhile, nationally, nearly 50,000 breath tests (49,812) were conducted with almost 10 (9.5) per cent of those testing positive, failed or refused. 6,846 drug tests were conducted with nearly 50 (48.5) per cent of those testing positive.”

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Police revealed 84 per cent of drink or drug driving offenders were male, with 74 per cent 25 years old or over. As many as 6,616 arrests were made for drink and drug driving offences and 1,589 individuals were charged.

The 2022 Operation Limit did not require police forces to report back on individuals charged so the 2023 charge figure is ‘not comparable’, police said.

Sussex Police Chief Constable Jo Shiner is also the National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for roads policing.

She said: “Drink and drug driving is responsible for many serious and fatal collisions every year and it is completely avoidable.

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“Policing has always taken a robust approach to removing drink and drug drivers from our roads and as long as people continue to undertake this dangerous behaviour, we will continue to make stopping it a core roads policing priority.”

Sussex Police Chief Superintendent Marc Clothier is also the National Police Chiefs’ Council operational lead for Operation Limit.

He said: “This national collaboration around Op Limit has been really successful and we’ve seen a wide range of tactics employed by forces around the country. We’ve also seen a number of innovative tactics such as the sending of Christmas cards to known offenders, reminding them that we are undertaking proactive patrols and underlining the dangers of drink and drug driving.

“While numbers of positive tests are very slightly lower than last year, far too many individuals still make the selfish choice to drive under the influence or drink or drugs.

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“We know that both alcohol and drugs have a significant impact on reaction times, control of the vehicle and awareness of what’s happening around you so it is absolutely not worth risking your life and the lives of other road users.”

Miriam’s story

Sussex Police drew reference to the story of Miriam Briddon, who ‘lost her life at the hands of a drink-driver’.

Miriam, 21, was the daughter of Ceinwen and Richard Briddon, sister to Katie-Ann, Lowri and twin sister to Megan.

Miriam was due to graduate from Coleg Sir Car in Carmarthen with a first-class honours degree in textile design in 2014.

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“On the March 29, 2014 (the eve of Mothering Sunday) Miriam left the family home near New Quay in West Wales to drive and spend the evening with her partner only a few miles away,” a police spokesperson said.

"As Miriam was nearing the end of her journey along the A482 Just outside Aberaeron during the hours of darkness, a Silver VW Golf driven by a 34-year-old local man, collided head on with her at significant speed having lost control on a left hand bend. The collision occurred wholly on Miriam’s side of the road, shunting her backwards a considerable distance and killing her instantly.

“The man had been drinking earlier that day and his blood alcohol levels saw him to be significantly over the prescribed drink drive limit at the time of collision. He pleaded guilty to causing death by undue care whilst over the prescribed dink drive limit.”

The driver was sentenced to prison but had his sentence reduced on appeal to five years claiming it to be ‘manifestly excessive’, police said. He received a five-year driving ban to start after his release.

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Sussex Police added: “Miriam’s family and community at large were devastated by her loss and felt they needed to do something positive in her memory, more so due to the leniency of sentencing that was handed to the driver and to others who caused fatal collisions through drink, drug or dangerous driving.

“The Briddon family campaigned tirelessly for a change in the law.

“Their petition – which they took to 10 Downing Street in 2016 – gained over close to 110,000 signatures, crossing the 100,000 threshold required for the UK Government to consider a debate on the matter.

“Today we see their efforts alongside many other grieving families and campaigners which resulted in the sentence for the most dangerous cases of death by dangerous or drink/drug driving extended to life in prison.”

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Chief Constable Shiner added: “The decision to consume alcohol or take drugs and get behind the wheel is entirely irresponsible, reckless and criminal and its impact is hugely significant on individuals, families and whole communities as we see in the tragic story of Miriam Briddon.

“On behalf of everyone involved in Op Limit I would like to thank Ceinwen for her bravery in both campaigning and continuing to tell Miriam’s story as a stark warning of the very worst that can happen at the hands of a drink driver.”