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The first week of the force’s festive drink and drug driving campaign has seen more than 30 people charged to appear before the courts, accused of taking to the wheel when under the influence.

The annual campaign kicked into gear on 1 December to raise awareness of the dangers of drink or drug driving, whilst seeking to take offenders off the road to make the region safer for all road users.

In just the first eight days of the operation 69 men and women have been pulled over and arrested for drink driving or failing to provide a breath sample, which has led to 33 charges for court.

The campaign became most visible to people enjoying the first weekend of December across the region’s cities and towns at the weekend with a series of road blocks and traffic operations late on Saturday night (6 Dec) aimed at catching those drivers who flout the law after a night out.

Sergeant Paul Talbot, of the force traffic unit, led the late night operation. He said: “We know people can become vulnerable when out on the town with friends and decide to have a few drinks after all.
“The danger is not knowing when to put your keys back in your pocket and get a taxi home instead.

“During our operation over 500 vehicles were stopped and checked at sites in Birmingham city centre but thankfully only four of those were subsequently arrested on suspicion of drink driving.

“I’d like to think this is as a result of people becoming aware of the dangers of driving when under the influence and deciding that they don’t want to risk it.

“The safest option is not to drink at all, meaning you, your passengers and other road users can rest assured that there is no danger posed as a result of your actions.

“Many of those we stopped and spoke to understood what we were trying to achieve and were accepting of the need to enforce the law when it comes to stopping those who drink and drive.”

During the course of Saturday night’s operation the traffic unit officers were joined by all of the department’s special constables to ensure drivers were not breaking the law as the Christmas party season swung into action.

As part of the 2014 campaign every person charged with drink or drug driving will be named on the force website for a week − a step first taken in 2013 − aimed at raising awareness and making drivers stop and think before possibly breaking the law.

Last year, the campaign’s page on the force website was viewed more than 41,600 times.

The webpage carries the reminder that drink or drug driving convictions can carry prison sentences of between 3 months and 14 years.

Inspector Greg Jennings, who is leading the West Midlands annual road safety campaign, said: “Christmastime is always a peak period for us, with so many people out celebrating and perhaps behaving differently to normal.

“It is never acceptable to get behind the wheel when under the influence and last year proved successful in raising awareness of the risks posed by drink driving.

“Therefore we have decided to again name everyone who has been charged with drink or drug driving offences in a bid to make people think twice before acting recklessly.

“If convicted of offences it can cost people their livelihoods and seriously affect their day to day lives – and relationships – if they lose their licence.

“Seeing people’s names there makes it all the more real and if one person is deterred from taking to the road after a night out on the tiles as a result of our messages then it is worthwhile as far as we are concerned.”

His sentiments are echoed by the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson, who said: “People driving under the influence of drink or drugs are a menace on our roads, causing harm and misery.

“I am hugely supportive of the Force’s efforts to reduce the number of fatalities and serious injuries caused by drink driving.  While controversial, naming drink driving suspects increases awareness of the potential consequences of getting behind the wheel while impaired through drink or drugs.

“It has my full support and, I believe, the support of a large majority of drivers and pedestrians.  The message is simple: if you want to avoid the consequences, don’t drink and drive.”

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