Published: December 23, 2011
Police step up drink driving checks over Christmas in Burnham area

Police have warned that there will be no let-up in their campaign to keep drink and drug drivers off the roads of the Burnham-On-Sea area this Christmas and New Year.

Officers will continue to make stop checks of vehicles and target known hotspots during peak times to emphasise the message and catch offenders.

Since the Operation Tonic campaign started on December 1st, police have arrested 151 drivers across the force area, 12 of them for driving under the influence of drugs. They have stopped 9,741 vehicles and breath-tested 1,458 drivers.

People are being reminded to use mobile phone texting to report drink or drug drivers. People are asked to text the word drunk to 81819 and send in information about someone who has got behind the wheel under the influence. The messages arrive in the police control room and are treated like an emergency 999 call.

Chief Inspector Yannis Georgiou of Avon and Somerset's Operations and Roads Policing Unit said: "Getting arrested and facing the prospect of losing your driving licence turns what should be a merry Christmas into a miserable one."

"We are determined to reduce the number of deaths and serious injuries caused by people drink and drug driving not just at this festive time, but all year round. Our message loud and clear is that drink or drug drivers will be stopped and arrested and banned from the roads. Drivers must realise that there is no safe drinking limit – other than not drinking at all."

Tonic is part of the force's Operation Relentless campaign – reducing death, serious injury and crime on the roads of Avon and Somerset. Drink and drug driving is one of the so-called 'fatal four' offences, together with speeding, not wearing a seat belt and using a mobile phone while driving, that are known major causes of collisions.

Police say that refusal to provide a breath specimen could lead to a six month prison sentence, a fine of up to £5,000 and a 12 month ban from driving. Drink drivers also face up to six months in prison, a fine of up to £5,000 and a ban of at least 12 months.

Anyone causing death by careless driving while under the influence of drink could be imprisoned for up to 10 years and banned for up to two years.

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