Overall, police in England and Wales gave 15,455 tests after collisions and 1,430 were positive. Nearly 7,000 people were injured in car crashes from 18 December to 2 January. In two police force areas, one out of five drivers breath-tested after car crashes was found to have drunk too much.
Police said comparisons with previous drink-drive figures were impossible because a new system of counting has been introduced this year. Previously details of all breath-tests during the festive period were given, whether or not the drivers stopped were involved in accidents.
Despite the police's attempts to restrict information, the breath-test failure rate of 9 per cent over Christmas is far higher than the 5 per cent rate in injury collisions reported by the Government for the year of 1996.
Avon and Somerset police found that 30 (21 per cent) of the 145 motorists tested had drunk too much. In Wiltshire, 27 out of 138 breath tests (20 per cent) were positive.
North Wales had the third highest rate at 17 per cent and Lancashire was fourth with 16 per cent.
Dave Rogers, of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents said the failure rate was appalling. "Far too many people are still drinking and driving without any thought for the devastation they can cause.
"We fear that drink-driving is slowly on the increase again. We would like to see police and the courts getting tough with drink drivers so that these totally irresponsible motorists realise that the risk is just not worth taking."Reuse content