Christmas drinkers not deterred by breath tests

POLICE officers breathalysing motorists in the run-up to Christmas have found the same proportion over the limit as last year - despite fewer tests being conducted.

Walter Girven, Chief Constable of Wiltshire and chairman of the Association of Chief Police Officer's Crime Committee, said figures from around the country for the first three days of the annual campaign were 'disappointing'.

The number of police required for anti-terrorism and security duties have reduced the number of checks being carried out by 13 per cent - but the figure of one in twelve positive tests is the same as last year. There were 1,367 positive tests out of 17,528 motorists breathalysed between 19 and 22 December. Mr Girven said: 'Police administered fewer breath tests than the comparable period last year, not least because of security duties in the run-up to Christmas, yet the number of motorists testing positively remains at almost 8 per cent, the same as last year.

'The only encouraging statistic . . . is that there has been a reduction of 10 per cent in injury accidents.'

The pounds 1.3m Christmas anti-drink-drive campaign was launched earlier this month with a television commercial so vivid it could not be screened before the 9pm watershed.

The 'sensible' majority of motorists supported the message behind the advertising campaign, but hard-core drink-drivers required more work by the Government, courts and police, said Mr Girvan.

ACPO believes that repeat offenders should be brought before a court as early as possible, and that bail should be granted on the condition that the motorist does not drive until the case reaches court.

Superintendent Chris Leithead, of the Metropolitan Police traffic branch, said that in London, the level of positive tests had remained about the same but there had been a 40 per cent drop in injury accidents.