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PCC Vera Baird backs Euro Drink Drive Campaign

10th June 2016

Northumbria Police have released footage of a drink driver as their Op Dragoon team launch a campaign to stop offending during the European Championships.

The annual TIPSOL summer drink and drug drive campaign has been extended this year to cover the duration of the football tournament in France that kicks off tonight (10/6).

Motor patrol officers will be supporting the Op Dragoon campaign through proactive operations across the region that will see any driver involved in a collision, or suspected of committing a moving traffic offence, breathalysed by police at the roadside.

Last summer’s campaign saw 80 people fail roadside breath tests but police expect that figure to rise as people flock to their local pubs to watch the football. The campaign will also be using new legislation to tackle any drug drivers in the region.

In a bid to highlight how dangerous drink driving can be Northumbria Police have today (Fri) released dashboard footage of when one motorist who was stopped on the A19 at around 4am on May 14.

The 35-year-old woman was pulled over by officers who saw her driving a silver Ford Focus at up to 80mph whilst drifting across lanes and almost colliding with the central motorway.

A breath test was conducted and she had a reading of 126 micrograms of alcohol in 100millilitres of breath – more than FOUR times the legal limit. She was disqualified for driving for 29 months as a result.

The Force is now warning those who think drinking does not affect their driving ability that officers will be out in large numbers during the tournament and for the rest of the summer.

Chief Inspector John Heckels, of the Operations Department and head of Op Dragoon, said: “Northumbria Police has been fully supportive of the TISPOL campaign for a number of years and remains more committed than ever to making our roads safer.

“We don’t want to stop people enjoying their summer, or to stop meeting up with friends to watch the football, but the message of this campaign is very clear – if you are having a drink then don’t drive.

“Alcohol impairs your ability to drive and could lead to a fatal collision. This kind of incident can tear families apart and the public need to ask themselves whether that extra pint is really worth it?

“If people are watching the football or going for a barbeque at a friend’s house then they need to make sure they plan their journey. If they know they’re going to be having a drink they should make arrangements to get home in advance.

“We will be out in force across the region and if you decide to ignore our advice and get behind the wheel while under the influence then you will be arrested.”

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Vera Baird, said: “I’m right behind Northumbria Police’s timely reminder of the dangers and consequences of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

“Of course we want people to enjoy the tournament but we want them to do so safely. Leave the car at home, call a taxi, designate a non-drinking driver – do whatever it takes, but don’t ruin your life or someone else’s by making a stupid mistake.”

Northumbria Police are already supporting an educational campaign by Road Safety North East GB who have urged those watching the football this summer not to drink and drive.

They were supported by the region’s largest football clubs and the campaign also warned against the dangers of driving the morning after consuming a large amount of alcohol as you can still be over the limit.

The number of those arrested for drink drive offences does tend to increase at this time of year regardless of the European Championships because of the warm weather of the summer months.

Chief Inspector Heckels added: “People may think they can get behind the wheel after a couple of pints but they are in fact putting lives at risk. Our officers have been on the scene of fatal collisions involving a drunk driver and the consequences for the families involved can be devastating.

“If you are watching the football this summer then my message is don’t drink and drive. This includes driving after one pint or the morning after a heavy night. If you take a risk then you will find yourself before the courts and off our roads.”

Op Dragoon is made up of a number of different strands and targets dangerous drivers, visit local schools to raise awareness in the importance of road safety and work closely with all road users to improve safety on the roads.

They rely on intelligence from the local communities to identify dangerous drivers and drink drivers. If you know anyone who you think is putting lives at risk on our roads then contact the team on 101.