Over 12,000 Breath Tests Carried Out Across Wales During Summer Anti-Drink/Drug Drive Campaign
Over 350 breath tests were positive throughout Wales during the recent month-long Anti Drink and Drug Drive Summer Campaign. The campaign, which was led by North Wales Police, saw officers carrying out over 12,000 breath tests and 52 arrests were made under the new Section 5a drug drive offence which came into being on March 4th 2015, giving officers the ability to test for cannabis and cocaine use.
North Wales Police administered 5,235 breath tests with 85 being positive. The force also carried out 20 DrugWipe tests, using the new kit, half of those tested failed.
Gwent Police carried out 297 breath tests with 17 testing positive, refusing or failing to provide. 19 people were arrested following a Section 5a drug test.
Dyfed Powys Police administered 4,951 tests of which 127 were positive, refused or failed to provide. 3 people were arrested following a Section 5a drug test.
In the South Wales Police area 2,437 tests were conducted with 124 testing positive, refusing or failing to provide. 20 people were arrested following a Section 5a drug swipe test.
The highest reading in North Wales was 125mg with the legal limit being 35mg. As a result a 36 year-old woman from Holywell was arrested and subsequently charged with driving under the influence of alcohol, driving whilst disqualified and driving without insurance. She appeared before Prestatyn Magistrates and was given a 12 week prison sentence, suspended for 12 months, ordered to go on a rehabilitation programme and pay costs. Only five days before, she had been banned from driving due to drink driving.
Chief Inspector Darren Wareing said: “North Wales Police are carrying out intelligence-led operations targeting people who frequently drive under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs throughout the year. It has been three years since we launched Operation Sodium – a 24/7 365 day a year anti-drink/drug driving campaign that was launched in response to the growing number of young people who were being fatally injured on the roads, and in particular the rural roads of North Wales. As a consequence of these intelligence-led operations we are seeing a significant fall in collisions involving drink and/or drugs.
“We are seeing more arrests as a result of our intelligence-led operations, however, there is still a perception out there that drivers, particularly in rural areas, believe they have less chance of getting caught drunk or under the influence of drugs behind the wheel. People should be aware that we have detailed tactical plans to support Operation Sodium that include targeting specific areas following analysis of intelligence and information given to us by concerned members of the community.
He added: “I would also like to personally thank each individual who contacted us during the campaign to give us the information we needed. The sole reason we carry out these campaigns is to help keep people safe on the roads, and by letting us know of anybody driving under the influence of drink or drugs they are possibly saving a life.
“We have a robust strategy around enforcing the ‘Fatal 5’ offences which are drink and drug driving, dangerous driving including unnecessary risk taking, speeding, failing to wear a seatbelt and using a mobile phone whilst driving. We are committed to assisting in reducing casualties on the road through the use of targeted operations around high risk groups of people and locations while enforcing the ‘Fatal 5’ offences.
“It is important to stress that the work does not stop here – any amount of alcohol or drugs affects your ability to drive, and campaigns such as this help to raise awareness. We will continue to target those breaking the law as part of daily policing. Operation Sodium is in full swing and the police are in a community near you targeting drink/drug driving now.
“Driving whilst under the influence of drink or drugs has significant impact on people; the devastation caused to families following a fatal collision can be immesurable.”
Chair of Road Safety Wales and Force Road Safety Officer for Dyfed Powys Police Susan Storch said: "It is disappointing that over 400 drivers throughout Wales chose to risk their own lives, and the lives of others during the campaign. We were clear in our messages throughout the campaign that drink or drug driving is not acceptable, and will not be tolerated. The police services also made effective use of the new legislation under Section 5a and made some significant arrests during the campaign period.
“Those that chose to break the law and endanger themselves and other road users arrogantly were in the minority, and we thank the public that showed support for the campaign and were happy to co-operate.
"Drink and drug driving ruins lives all year round and we will continue to work closely with the Police in reinforcing these messages throughout the year. We are asking the public in Wales to help us take these people off our roads, and report anyone you suspect of drink or drug driving to the Police using 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111"