Drive-drive numbers down slightly

The number of drink-drivers detected over the festive period across the north east has fallen slightly , with 11 less being detected than over the same period last year.

After the conclusion of the nationwide ACPOS campaign, figures show that 46 people have been reported locally to the Procurator Fiscal for drink-driving offences between December 3 and January 4.

That compares to 57 people caught over a similar period last year. Of the 46 people charged this year, 14 were between the ages of 17 and 25 (30%) compared to 31% last year (16).

Three people were detected driving under the influence of drugs, a reduction on seven last year.

Figures for the final week of the campaign showed a sharp rise from last year - with 20 people being caught compared to 12 last year.

Nine requests for the forfeiture of vehicles were made during the campaign, with these drivers potentially losing their vehicles at court.

Chief Inspector Ian Wallace, head of Road Policing, said that any reduction was welcome, but said it was both disappointing and frustrating that so many people were still ignoring the drink-drive warnings.

He said: “The question we need to ask is why, despite all the warnings, did 49 people chose to get behind the wheel when unfit to do so, risking their own lives and those of other road users?

“Despite years of publicity and enforcement, drink drive offences remain relatively constant with, more worryingly, a steady stream of younger drivers adding to the annual levels of offending. We need a cultural change to this issue before we can hope to rid the roads of this kind of irresponsible behaviour.”

In the aftermath of the tough drink-drive crackdown by police which saw 462 people detected drink or drug driving nationwide, a new poll has shown that an overwhelming majority of Scots would back even tougher action.

The survey shows that three quarters of Scots (75 per cent) would support the Scottish Government having additional legal powers to combat drink driving. The Scottish Government has previously called for the transfer of powers from the UK Government such as giving the police the ability to conduct breath testing anytime, anywhere to deter drivers.

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said that the poll showed the Scottish public clearly support further action.

Mr MacAskill said: “We may have moved into a new year, but it’s clear some drivers still hold outdated attitudes and think it’s okay to drink and drive. Sadly we’ve already seen hundreds of drivers ignore the risks and put lives in danger in the last few weeks.

“That is absolutely deplorable in this day and age and these people are finding out the hard way that their actions will be met with the full force of the law. The Scottish public have clearly also had enough of them. It is encouraging to see so many people speaking out, and we agree with them.

“That is why we are already taking action to reduce the current limit using the powers recently transferred to us by the UK Government after years of lobbying. Scotland now plans to take action to reduce drink drive limits and bring us into line with other European countries, but we want to go even further.

“Sadly, the UK Government ignored our pleas to transfer the additional powers necessary to give our police forces the tools they need to crack down on drink drivers, such as carrying out breath testing anytime, anywhere. The Scottish public have spoken and they have sent out a clear message to the UK Government that Scotland should be given the additional powers we need.

“We want to move to a situation where people are left with no excuse as it is becoming increasingly clear that the only way to get through to drink drivers is a no-nonsense approach. The UK Government need to listen to the Scottish public, give us the additional drink drive powers we are asking for, so that we can show these drink drivers that their actions will not be tolerated.”