Drink driving numbers increase

More repeat drink-drivers than ever before are being convicted in the county, it can be revealed today.

SUFFOLK: More repeat drink-drivers than ever before are being convicted in the county, it can be revealed today.

On the day The Evening Star launches its annual Christmas and New Year campaign against drink-driving, it emerged one in four motorists caught drunk behind the wheel already had criminal records for the offence.

Government figures show that last year 220 (24.89 per cent) out of the 884 drivers arrested already had a previous conviction for drink driving.

Eight years earlier, the percentage was nearly half that figure. A total of 112 (12.98pc) out of 863 motorists were caught for the second time or more in 2000.

Undeterred by a rise in the number of drink-drivers last December and the surge in repeat offenders, the Evening Star pledges yet again to name and shame those who risk killing someone by driving while drunk.

For more than ten years we have run our festive campaign alongside those of Suffolk Constabulary and the government.

Most Read

We do it for one reason, and one reason only - to prevent lives being destroyed.

Once again, we will cover all the drink-driver cases which come before magistrates in Ipswich involving motorists caught between December 1 and January 1, 2010.

Evening Star editor Nigel Pickover said: “We make this pledge this year, as we have done throughout the past 12 years or so. We do so because it is imperative drink-driving is eradicated from our roads.

“We must all do whatever we can to combat this menace which can bring such life-changing misery to families. In the hands of a drink-driver in particular, a vehicle becomes a lethal weapon.

“If you spot anyone you believe to be driving while under the influence of alcohol I would urge you to telephone the police immediately.”

Ady Smith, chairman of Ipswich's Barwatch scheme and landlord of The Dove public house in St Helen's Street backed the Star's stance and also urged people to inform police if they suspect someone of drink-driving.

He said: “I'm sure all licensees who are members of Barwatch will fully endorse and support the campaign. We want our customers to drink responsibly and not get behind the wheel if they have had any alcohol to drink.

“People should be vigilant and inform the police if they think somebody is drink-driving.”

SUFFOLK: Despite massive local and national campaigns, Suffolk shamefully had a three-fold increase in drink-driving last Christmas.

Year-on-year figures suggested the message of how lethal the cocktail of alcohol and vehicles are when mixed has still not got through.

The astounding numbers revealed by Suffolk Constabulary showed that 310 motorists were caught being drunk behind the wheel in December 2008 out of 3,858 breath tests.

In the same period the previous year there were 94 positive breath tests from 3,069 taken.

Speaking ahead of tomorrow's launch of the police's campaign for this year, Kate Rutsch, a spokeswoman for Suffolk force, said: “Drink driving can have tragic consequences and I would strongly urge people not to do it. By doing so they may ruin their own lives as well as the lives of others - it really isn't worth the risk.

“Last December we saw an increase in the number of people we caught drink driving.

“This should act as a warning. If you drink and drive you will be arrested and prosecuted. Instead of spending a night in the cells, please take the sensible option and leave your car at home, get a taxi or ask a designated driver for a lift.”

Part of last year's rise was put down to the number of foreign motorists now on the county's roads.

Although acknowledging the major contribution visiting workers made to life in this country, Ipswich MP Chris Mole said it was vital additional efforts are made to educate them.

After the figures were revealed in January he said: “People who come to Britain from other countries need to be aware of our laws and customs.

“They need to know that it is not acceptable to drive after they have been drinking. I know police have produced leaflets in other languages, but the message needs to be underlined at every opportunity.”

More than half of the people who failed a breathalyser last December had an alcohol reading of at least twice the legal limit of 35microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath.

Suffolk's deputy chief constable Jacqui Cheer said: “It is hard to believe that people are continuing to take such a huge risk.”