Rise in drink driving in Suffolk

INCREASING numbers of drivers in Suffolk are putting their lives and the lives of innocent others in jeopardy by drink driving, new figures have revealed.

INCREASING numbers of drivers in Suffolk are putting their lives and the lives of innocent others in jeopardy by drink driving, new figures have revealed.

The statistics, released today by Suffolk police, show a marked rise in the percentage of people caught drink driving in the recent summer drink and drug driving enforcement campaign.

When compared with the results from the same campaign run last June this year's results show an increase of just under 6%.

The month-long campaign began on June 1 and saw police officers across the county conduct 919 breath tests.

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Of those 77 were positive, equating to 8.4% and 34 of these were found to be more than twice the legal limit.

In comparison, during the 2008 summer campaign in June last year officers conducted 857 breath tests, 21 of which were positive, equating to just 2.45%.

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Chief inspector Mike Bacon, of Suffolk Constabulary, said he was 'disappointed' the message 'is still not getting through to some people.'

'Over eight percent of people checked have failed to act with consideration or acknowledge the greatly increased risks they face by drink driving,' he said.

'Those offending need to realise that they not just put themselves at risk but other innocent road users as well. This is a very serious issue and can have severe consequences.

'Anybody convicted of drink driving will have a criminal record and could receive a prison sentence of up to 10 years, they could be banned from driving, fined heavily and even lose their jobs.

'Not to mention the possible loss of life.

'We want everyone to know that Suffolk police will not tolerate drink or drug driving and we will continue to carry out checks throughout the year.'

Phil Stoddart, of Lowestoft, said he did not think people were 'scared' enough of the punishments handed out by the courts.

His two teenage daughters, 18-year-old Claire and 15-year-old Jenny, were among five people killed in a car crash on the A12, near Blythburgh, in north Suffolk, in July 2006 involving a drink driver.

In light of today's statistics Mr Stoddart said in order to deter more people 'tougher sentences' from courts is the answer.

'If we are really going to cut down we need really tough sentences, not necessarily prison but people should automatically lose their driving licences,' he said. 'I don't think people are scared enough and the figures reflect that.

'People know more than ever it is wrong to drink drive, you can't fault the police for doing what they can to enforce the message but it needs to be stressed in the courts. Obviously people are not afraid.'

He said an automatic ban equated to the level of alcohol in a persons blood would have more of an effect at deterring people.

'To me the message should be if you drink and drive you will lose your licence,' he said.

'The message has got to be clear, no alcohol is acceptable.'

Anyone who suspects someone of drink driving is asked to report them immediately to Suffolk police or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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