A total of 124 people were arrested during the Essex Police Christmas campaign against drink-drivers – with the majority being dealt with by the courts within a day of the offences.

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Close co-operation between police and the courts resulted in most offenders being banned from driving less than 24 hours after being breathalysed or being charged with failing or refusing to provide a specimen.

The fast-tracking proved so successful that it is hoped that it will continue across the county.

A total of 3,409 drivers were breath tested between December 1 and December 31, including 160 who had been involved in road collisions.

Of the 124 arrested, 10 were arrested on suspicion of driving while under the influence of drugs or drink or drugs. A total of 33 of those prosecuted were under the age of 25. Thirty-three women and 91 men were arrested.

Essex Police’s casualty reduction manager, Adam Pipe, said: “Excellent cooperation with the Criminal Justice Department and the courts has resulted in the majority of offenders being brought to justice within 24 hours.

“We hope that this will bring home to drivers that police and the courts will continue to deal robustly with offenders and ensure they are taken off the roads as quickly as possible for the safety of other road users.

“We have also been delighted with the excellent response from members of the public to our request for information about offenders and we had a number of calls through the 101 telephone number and Crimestoppers about drivers who were flouting the law.

“Unfortunately there are still people risking their own lives and the lives of innocent people by continuing to drink and drive and there have been some appalling incidents over the Christmas period of people still being way over the limit the following morning.

“A man from Colchester who was involved in an injury road collision refused to provide a sample of breath or blood and he was given a six-week prison sentence suspended for a year and disqualified from driving for 40 months.

“A woman from the Chelmsford area was found to be twice the limit when she was stopped and questioned after driving her children to school. She was disqualified for 20 months.

“A man in the Colchester area was found to be twice the limit at 10am on a Sunday morning after thinking he was safe to drive after after a night out.”

Mr Pipe said that there had been an apparent increase in the number of people thinking they were safe to drive after drinking the previous evening.

He added: “We are now submitting our data to Essex County Council road safety experts with a view to launching a publicity campaign to warn drivers about the time it takes to be fit again to drive after drinking.”

In the meantime, the campaign against drink-drivers continues 365 days a year and anyone with information about offenders should contact Essex Police on 101 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.

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