December 1 marked the start of the Hertfordshire Police annual drink and drug driving campaign.
Between now and the New Year, officers will be out in force across Hertfordshire targeting those under the influence of alcohol behind the wheel.
Driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs could not only ruin Christmas but destroy lives forever, Hertfordshire Constabulary says.
Between December and the New Year, officers will be out in force across Hertfordshire targeting those under the influence of alcohol behind the wheel, and urging motorists to be sensible in their decision-making during the festive season.
Drinking or drug taking impairs reaction times and the ability to think clearly. As a result, motorists who drive under the influence are more likely to be involved in a serious or fatal collision.
Last year, there were 325 fatal or serious injury road traffic collisions in Hertfordshire. Over 10 per cent of these were relating to driving while under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol.
When someone passes away as a result of a road traffic collision, a specially trained Family Liaison Officer (FLO) is assigned to provide support to the relatives and loved ones of the victim throughout the police investigation. There are 44 FLOs across Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire.
PC Sam Sparkes has been a FLO for over 18 years. She says: “No amount of training prepares you for the feeling of having to tell someone that their loved one has passed away, especially at this time of year. Going to their address, knowing the news you have to deliver is going to tear their world apart – it never gets any easier.
“When you make the decision to drive whilst under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you are making a conscious decision to risk the lives of real people. There is no excuse for it: if you are drinking, even if you only plan on having one or two, you should not be driving.
“By choosing to drink and drive, not only are you putting yourself in danger, but you’re risking the lives of your passengers and other law-abiding road users. Could you live with yourself if you were responsible for killing someone? Could you live with the fact that your poor judgement and reckless behaviour meant that someone had to say goodbye to their partner, their mother, their father, their son or their daughter, and making their Christmas unforgettable for all the wrong reasons?”
Hertfordshire Constabulary is also reminding motorists of the dangers of driving the day after drinking, as you may well still be over the limit. Motorists caught drink or drug driving face a 12-month ban, a large fine, and a criminal record. These can lead to job loss, relationship breakdowns, foreign travel restrictions and increased insurance premiums.
Chief Inspector Steve O’Keeffe, head of Roads Policing for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire, said: “We want people to remember Christmas for all the right reasons. It should be a happy time but driving under the influence of drink or drugs can change that in a heartbeat. This campaign is not about spoiling peoples’ fun: it is about ensuring they don’t do something that jeopardises it. Drink and drug driving can bring financial hardship, pain and loneliness which is a far cry from Christmas festivities we all want to enjoy.
“If you are going out this Christmas, please plan ahead and make sure you get home safely. Book a taxi or designate a non-drinking driver. It is also important to ensure you are not over the limit the next day as this can still impair your ability to drive.”