Morning dangers of drinking to excess

Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport, county coun Tim Ashton.

Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport, county coun Tim Ashton.

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DRUNK drivers have killed almost 300 people in the UK this year – and police are urging motorists not to become one of the statistics this Christmas.

Lancashire Police has launched its annual festive drink driving campaign in a bid to crack down on drivers over-indulging and getting behind the wheel.

And this year the force has warned being over the limit the morning after the night before is just as dangerous as getting in the driving seat straight after your Christmas party.

Supt Richard Morgan, from Lancashire Police, said: “Last year 280 people were killed across the country in accidents where the driver was over the limit.

“If you don’t drink and drive this Christmas you reduce the risk of killing an innocent person, or yourself.

“It is really that simple.

“People may be surprised to hear that last year between the hours of 6am and 11am nationally more than 400 people failed breath tests which is more than those caught for the hour before or after midnight.

“Drivers need to be aware that regardless of the time of day they are caught, whether they are going to work or taking children to school, they will face the same penalties as someone who has chosen to drink heavily in a pub and drive at night.”

Officers from across Lancashire tested more than 13,000 drivers during last year’s month-long campaign, which runs throughout December, with just 168 people – 1.3 per cent – testing positive or refusing the provide a specimen, compared to two per cent in 2010 and 2.2 per cent in 2009. County Coun Tim Ashton, Lancashire County Council’s cabinet member for highways and transport, added: “It took years of campaigning in the past to change attitudes to drink driving and we’re working this Christmas to make sure the message is not lost on a new generation.”

The Fylde coast has seen a number of high profile drink driving cases this year.

In June, Lytham actor Jonas Armstrong was ordered to do 80 hours unpaid work in a charity shop after he was discovered in his car while three and a half times the drink-drive limit.

At Blackpool Magistrates’ Court he admitted being drunk in charge of his car in a Liverpool car park.

And in September, Paul Andrews, 58, of Chester Avenue, Poulton, narrowly avoided prison after he pleaded guilty to driving with excess alcohol for the third time in seven years.

He was sentenced to 10 weeks in prison, suspended for 18 months, when he appeared before resort magistrates.