Northern Ireland

14-year-old among almost 300 arrested during drink/drug driving Christmas crackdown

PSNI breath tested more than 7,000 during December, with those arrested also included 82-year-old

A PSNI officer is due to appear in court next month charged with drink-driving
PSNI arrested 298 people on suspicion of drink/drug driving in December

A 14-year-old boy was among close to 300 people arrested on suspicion of drink or drug driving in December, according to preliminary figures released by the PSNI.

Initial figures reveal that 298 people were arrested after police carried out 7,250 preliminary breath tests the Christmas campaign aimed at cracking down on drink or drug driving. The oldest person arrested was an 82-year-old man.

The number is a slight decrease on the 310 arrested over the same period the previous year.

The highest number of arrests were made in Belfast (65), while Fermanagh and Omagh had the largest decrease compared to the previous year, down from 31 to 9.

The most popular reasons to drink alcohol alternatives were to avoid drinking excessively at social events and being able to drive home, according to the study
One individual arrested was four and a half times over the legal limit (Philip Toscano/PA)

Males accounted for the majority (82.6%) of those arrested, while over half were between 30 and 49 years old. The highest breath test reading recorded over the campaign was about four and a half times the legal limit.

Chief Superintendent Sam Donaldson, of the PSNI’s Operational Support Department, said: “Despite urging drivers not to take any risks by drinking or taking drugs and driving, almost 300 people ignored our warning and were arrested.

PSNI Chief Superintendent Sam Donaldson launched the campaign in Belfast on Tuesday (Claudia Savage/PA)
PSNI Chief Superintendent Sam Donaldson

“The 298 motorists now find themselves facing the prospect of starting 2024 with a court appearance and losing their driving license, which may have a huge impact on their life, that of their family and probably their career.

“These figures show that If you drink and drive you will be caught, you will be prosecuted and you will be punished.

“It is extremely frustrating and concerning 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.

“Driving with drink or drugs, drastically increases the chances of a causing a collision. It only takes one drink. If you’re driving, don’t drink any alcohol at all.

“We continue to focus our operational activity on road safety issues, with operations being held this week. We all share the roads. This means we all share the responsibility for road safety.

“Remember the Fatal Five and the steps you can take to avoid them. Don’t drink and drive, slow down, don’t get careless, wear your seat belt and stay off your phone.”