IRRESPONSIBLE drivers who get behind the wheel under the influence of drink or drugs are being targeted by West Midlands Police as the force launches its Christmas campaign.
Officers armed with drug-testing kits and breathalysers will stop motorists suspected of putting lives at danger during the festive season.
The annual drink and drug driving campaign was launched by West Midlands Police and the Central Motorway Police Group (CMPG).
Officers are using latest technology − a drive simulator that replicates the effect of drink driving − to stress the dangers of taking to public roads while under the influence of alcohol.
The software creates motoring scenarios to highlight the impact drink and drugs have on reaction times − and it will be taken to locations across the region over the coming weeks to allow the public to experience how risky it is to drive when their judgement is impaired.
Inspector Richard Gathergood, from CMPG, said: “It is never acceptable to get behind the wheel under the influence of drink or drugs – such reckless actions can put yourself and other innocent road users at risk of serious injury or death.
“Officers are always on the lookout for anyone driving under the influence but the festive period is a particularly busy time with people out celebrating.
“As part of this annual campaign we want to warn of the dangers and urge people to make sure they are planning their evenings and journeys responsibly.
“Combining drink and illegal drugs is especially deadly – with drivers who consume both being 23 times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash than sober drivers.”
As part of the intelligence-led police operation, officers will carry out unmarked patrols and monitor hotspot areas.
Last year’s Christmas campaign saw 54 of the 130 motorists tested for drugs provide a positive reading, while a total of 176 drivers failed breath tests − an 18 per cent failure rate from all drivers pulled over.
Insp Gathergood added: “This statistic shows we are targeting offenders effectively – we are going after people we suspect are over the limit and not overly inconveniencing innocent motorists.”
West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson has also backed the campaign.
He added: “Drink or drug driving is dangerous and inexcusable – and yet a reckless minority unfortunately still take the risk.
“People are out celebrating and end up making decisions they normally wouldn’t, such as getting behind the wheel after drinking.
“I want everyone in the West Midlands to have a safe and happy Christmas so please don’t ruin your family – or someone else’s – by drinking or taking drugs and driving. West Midlands Police will be watching.”
Anyone who suspects someone is drink or drug driving should call police on 101 or the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.