Time called on drivers over the limit: A 1.6m pounds campaign was launched yesterday to deter summertime drink-drivers. Christian Wolmar reports

THE TUBBY CHAP in the blue Dior casual shirt had already endured one disaster. His horse had come sixth at Windsor races and now he was having to blow into a breathalyser tube because a police patrol had noticed him driving while using his mobile phone and not wearing a seat belt.

He had to face a long wait because he had downed his last drink just before leaving the racecourse and breath tests cannot be taken within 20 minutes. His wife, sitting with him in their Range Rover, spent the whole time berating him for having had that last drink.

He blew into the tube and it quickly went to orange. He sweated while waiting for the mandatory 40 seconds, but it stayed there. Only if it goes through the orange-red phase and to the red one alone does the driver get arrested and taken to the police station to blow again into a more sophisticated machine.

Constables Daren Courtenay and Danny Skinner were on the late shift, 4pm till midnight, covering Maidenhead, Slough and Windsor and a chunk of the M4 and M25 motorways. They had decided to check the traffic streaming out of Windsor racecourse as the meeting ended.

PC Courtenay, young, keen-eyed and confident, looked for any minor infringement to allow him to stop a suspect - a car not giving way at the roundabout, a broken exhaust, excessive speed and so on. Actually, the powers for random searches are already there. The police can stop anyone to ask for documents and PC Courtenay watches out particularly for high-performance cars as these are so often stolen.

They sheltered in their Vauxhall Senator down a side road off a roundabout and occasionally hared off after a suspicious vehicle, sometimes stopping it, sometimes not bothering if the driver was behaving. They dispensed lots of advice and warnings, but no tickets, not even to the young man in a Suzuki Swift who was both speeding and overtaking on the inside.

PC Courtenay said: 'It is much better to give them a warning and send them on their way. Hopefully, they will be more careful.' And, of course, it means less paperwork, less time in court, less hostility to the police and more time spent on patrol.

The real quarry is the drink- driver. As pub chucking-out time approached, they stepped up the number of stops - a speeding Ford Granada, a BMW and a man who has got lost - but not a whiff of alcohol among them.

Then, just as we are about to pull into a garage to buy a drink - soft, of course - a Mercedes speeds by at 100mph, almost losing control on a bend. We give chase and stop it.

The driver was calm at first but then became agitated. He said he had had 'one cup of beer', but he reeked of alcohol.

PC Courtenay asked him to blow into the tube, but twice he just puffed on the outside. He was warned that he would be arrested if he failed to blow properly again. Again the pressure was insufficient to light the machine.

In the car, the man's stumbling English got worse as he panicked and begged for one more chance: 'You are going to ruin my life.' He was a manager in a local computer firm and clearly faced losing his job as well as his licence. PC Courtenay handled the situation calmly, explaining carefully that he did have one more chance, but only at the police station.

The man protested: 'You are mistreating me because I am a foreigner. Will my licence be cancelled?' Only if you are over the limit, PC Courtenay said.

He was led down into the depths of Maidenhead police station, next to the cells, where there is a Lion Intoximeter 3000, a high-tech breathalyser. After the paperwork was completed, he was told to blow into the tube to provide two specimens. If the lowest score was over 35, he would be prosecuted.

The man had two minutes in which to provide the specimens, but again he twice failed to blow properly. PC Courtenay warned him that one more failure would mean automatic loss of his licence. This time he succeeded and the score was only 14, well below the limit.

It was now 1am, an hour into overtime, but the two constables were satisfied: 'He won't be driving at 100mph after drinking beer again,' PC Courtenay said.

(Photograph omitted)

Life and Style
Small winemakers say the restriction makes it hard to sell overseas
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
A comedy show alumni who has gone on to be a big star, Jon Stewart
tvRival television sketch shows vie for influential alumni
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Hope Fletcher
booksFirst video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
News
Clare Balding
peopleClare Balding on how women's football is shaking up sport
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
Damien Hirst
artCoalition's anti-culture policy and cuts in local authority spending to blame, says academic
Sport
premier leagueMatch report: Arsenal 1 Man United 2
Arts and Entertainment
Kirk Cameron is begging his Facebook fans to give him positive reviews
film
News
i100
Sport
Jonny May scores for England
rugby unionEngland 28 Samoa 9: Wing scores twice to help England record their first win in six
Life and Style
fashionThe Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Arts and Entertainment
Jason goes on a special mission for the queen
tvReview: Everyone loves a CGI Cyclops and the BBC's Saturday night charmer is getting epic
Arts and Entertainment
Jerry Hall (Hand out press photograph provided by jackstanley@theambassadors.com)
theatre
Sport
Tony Bellew (left) and Nathan Cleverly clash at the Echo Arena in Liverpool
boxingLate surge sees Liverpudlian move into world title contention
Voices
Neil Findlay
voicesThe vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
food + drinkMeat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Reach Volunteering: Financial Trustee and Company Secretary

Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: A trustee (company d...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Project Manager

£45000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Shopfitter

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join a successful an...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Sales Account Manager

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Digital Sales Account Manager...

Day In a Page

Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible
Look what's mushrooming now! Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector

Look what's mushrooming now!

Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
Neil Findlay is more a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

More a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

The vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Tenderstem broccoli omelette; Fried eggs with Mexican-style tomato and chilli sauce; Pan-fried cavolo nero with soft-boiled egg

Oeuf quake

Bill Granger's cracking egg recipes
Terry Venables: Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back

Terry Venables column

Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back
Michael Calvin: Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Those at the top are allowing the same issues to go unchallenged, says Michael Calvin