MIRRORING the national trend of a sharp increase on last year’s total, figures show more drivers in the Lothian and Borders force area were prepared to take a risk behind the wheel over Christmas and new year, with 70 caught drink driving during the festive period.
Although it’s a primary issue all year round, in keeping with other years Lothian and Borders Police, in conjunction with the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland (ACPOS), launched a four week crack down on drink drivers at the start of December and warned motorists they would be tougher than ever before.
As well as a ban, substantial fine and court appearance, repeat offenders and motorists who gave a particularly high reading faced having their vehicles taken from them.
But the prospect of a hefty punishment did little to deter some drivers as the number caught driving whilst under the influence across Scotland went up from last year’s figure of 426 to 478 with a further 36 people caught driving whilst under the influence of drugs and 43 charged after refusing to provide a sample of breath.
Of those caught, 10 were repeat offenders, 51 provided a reading over three times the allowed limit of 35mg of alcohol in 100ml of breath and 104 drivers had their cars forfeited.
Seventy of the 478 detected by police were from the Lothian and Borders area, up on last year’s figure of 53. Seventeen were caught in week one, 19 in week two, 18 in week three and 16 in week four.
Breaking it down further to just the Borders (G Division) the campaign got off to a pleasing start with no drivers caught in the first two weeks, three in week three and one in week four, the sole offender being from Berwickshire.
On the evening of Wednesday, December 28, police received a report of a disturbance at a house in Lennel, Coldstream.
By the time officers arrived at the scene, the alleged culprit, a 31-year-old local man, had driven off. His vehicle was found abandoned near Wedderburn Castle a short time later and he was traced nearby.
A breath test showed him to be over the limit and after being arrested he provided a specimen of breath almost three times the legal limit. He was charged with drink driving, and a domestic breach of the peace.
Another notable offence took place close to Dunbar on Monday, December 5, just hours after the campaign was launched.
Police were on patrol on the A198 North Berwick to Whitekirk road when their attention was drawn to a driver involved in a single vehicle collision. The officers detected a strong smell of alcohol from the man who stated he had consumed two bottles of vodka. He was arrested and provided a breath sample four times the legal limit, a result which prompted his vehicle to be seized.
Discussing the campaign results, Chief Superintendent Kate Thomson, ACPOS lead on drink driving, said: “It is deeply concerning that so many people are willing to risk their own lives and the lives of others. As well as receiving a criminal record, a substantial fine and an automatic 12 month ban, some of these drivers may also have their vehicle taken away for good.
“Although the campaign is now over, we will continue to target drink and drug drivers on a daily basis with patrols across the country out 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Our priority is to make our roads safe and get the message through that driving under the influence of drink or drugs is dangerous and completely unacceptable.”