Wiltshire police arrested 90 motorists in festive season crackdown

By Barrie Hudson - 11 January 2021

Crime

Police officers arrested 90 drivers during their annual Christmas drink and drug driving campaign.

The operation, which combined intelligence-led enforcement with raising awareness of the dangers of driving while intoxicated, ran throughout December.

In total 46 motorists were arrested on suspicion of drink driving and 44 were arrested on suspicion of drug driving.

All of those arrested in connection with suspected drug driving have been released under investigation while Wiltshire Police await the results of blood tests.

Of those arrested on suspicion of drink driving, 33 have since been charged, three were released under investigation to allow for further enquiries, and 10 were released with no further police action.

Inspector Mark Freeman, who leads the Wiltshire Police roads policing unit, said: "This was an unusual drink and drug drive campaign, due to the covid-19 restrictions throughout December, which led to less opportunities for people to get behind the wheel after socialising at pubs and bars.

"However, the fact that 90 people were arrested shows that this is still very much an issue across Wiltshire and something we need to continue to tackle.

"Just because this awareness campaign has now come to an end, doesn’t mean that our enforcement action will cease. 

"We will continue to do everything we can to keep our county safe, and we would of course continue to encourage members of the public to provide us with the vital intelligence needed to help get drink and drug drivers off our roads.

“If you have concerns about someone you know, then please call us."

Sergeant Neil Bott said that when looking through the various arrests from the Christmas operation, it was clear how much being intoxicated had impaired people’s ability to drive safely.

He added: "Although as part of our campaign we were focusing on community-led intelligence, acting on information from members of the public, many of these arrests were also as a result of officers being called to road traffic collisions or incidents of dangerous or unsafe driving.

"Overall 15 of these arrests were following a collision, including incidents where cars had crashed into walls, ditches and fields.

"There was also an incident where a motorist collided with an ambulance while trying to get away from police, another where someone was caught driving the wrong way down a one-way street, and an incident where a driver allegedly sprayed aftershave into their mouth to try to make their breathalyser reading invalid.

"We also had an arrest for driving while impaired, where someone was technically below the legal limit, but we believed the alcohol or drugs had impacted their driving standards to an extent which made it unsafe.

"If your driving standard can be evidenced to be impaired then simply having drugs or alcohol in your system may lead to an impaired driving charge, even if the amounts are below the legal limit for general driving. 

"It is always better to not drink or use drugs if you are going to be driving."

Anybody who knows someone who drives while under the influence of drink or drugs is asked to call 101 and give as much information as possible, including the driver’s details or description, their car registration and a time or day that they always do it.

Anybody who believes a crime is being committed and somebody is already behind the wheel is asked to call 999.

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