Suffolk's drink-driving shame

SUFFOLK should hang its head in shame today as it is revealed that the number of drink-drivers caught in the county this Christmas has more than trebled.

Paul Geater

SUFFOLK should hang its head in shame today as it is revealed that the number of drink-drivers caught in the county this Christmas has more than trebled.

The staggering numbers were revealed by Suffolk police which showed that 310 motorists were caught drinking and driving during last month's drink-drive campaign when 3,858 breath tests were taken.

In the same period in 2007, there were 94 positive breath tests from a total of 3,069 taken.

And the figures were swelled by numbers of foreign motorists who took the Suffolk's roads while over the limit.

Today Ipswich's MP today demanded more be done to prevent foreign motorists drinking and driving on Suffolk's roads.

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Although acknowledging the major contribution visiting workers make to life in this country, Chris Mole believes it is vital additional efforts are made to get the message across.

He said: “People who come to Britain from other countries need to be aware of our laws and our customs. They need to know that it is not acceptable to drive after they have been drinking.

“I know the 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 month had an alcohol reading of at least twice the legal limit of 35 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath.

Although eight per cent of the 3,858 tested positive in total, that percentage rose to just over 11 per cent when drivers were breathalysed after a collision (79 out of 703).

The Evening Star has run its name and shame campaign for the last 12 years, pledging to highlight as many drink drivers as possible who are taken through the courts during the Christmas period.

Today Star editor Nigel Pickover said: It just shows you the need is as great as ever and it's very worrying that more and more people seem to be risking other people's lives.”

Deputy chief constable Jacqui Cheer, who is vice-chair of the Suffolk Roadsafe Board, said: “These results show a dramatic and disappointing rise in the number of people who are willing to risk their own lives and the lives of others by drink driving.

This is of great concern, but should also act as a warning - if you drink and drive, you will get caught.

“With almost 800 more people being breath tested in December 2008 compared to the year before, it is more likely than ever that you will be stopped. It is hard to believe that people are continuing to take such a huge risk.”

Between September 1 and December 31, increased enforcement has also seen officers catch 1711 people not wearing a seatbelt, 525 motorists using their mobile phones and 1,290 drivers speeding.

Anyone who suspects someone they know of drink-driving should telephone police on Ipswich 613500 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

- The drink-drive failure rate among females was four per cent, and 9.2 per cent among males.

The failure rate in the 18-30 age group was 8.9 per cent. In the 31-45 age group the failure rate was 5.6 per cent and 3.6 per cent in the over 45s.

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