According to provisional figures released today (15 January), police made 396 drink driving arrests, which is 114 more than during the same period last year.
This figure includes motorists who were unfit to drive, or who were unable or refused to give a sample.
It also includes individuals who were caught on more than one occasion.
One driver was four times the drink drive limit but still got behind the wheel.
Winter drink drive operation results (27 Nov 2015 – 2 Jan 2016)
- Total detections 396 (up from 282 last year)
- Youngest person detected, 16 years of age
- Oldest person detected, 83 years of age
- 325 Males, 71 Females detected
- Highest reading 140mg (legal limit is 35 micrograms of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath).
- 4231 Preliminary Breath Tests were carried out.
Police chiefs are shocked at the spike in detections despite a high profile television and media campaign warning motorists to ditch the car if they were drinking.
And Environment Minister Mark H Durkan said it was “unacceptable” that people were still drink and driving and putting the lives of others on the roads at risk.
Assistant Chief Constable Alan Todd said today: “When we launched this operation at the end of November, we warned drivers not to take the risk because Police are determined to catch drink drivers.
“While we have seen a huge increase in detections, it’s difficult to accept this situation as a success, we shouldn’t be detecting anyone drink driving.
“One person was detected at four times the drink drive limit, with a reading of 140 micrograms of alcohol in 100 millimetres of breath while the legal limit is 35 micrograms of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath.
“It’s disappointing that despite our warnings, a minority of people completely disregarded the safety of themselves and others by continuing this shameful and incredibly dangerous practice.
“Every year here drinking and driving kills, maims and wrecks families.
“Police will continue to detect people who insist on driving after having taken drugs or alcohol. We are again appealing for all motorists to consider the consequences of their actions.
“Think about the consequences to yourself and your family of being involved in a serious collision. How would you feel if your actions resulted in you or one of your family being paralysed? How would you feel if some innocent person was killed?
“Across Northern Ireland there are nearly 400 people who took the risk and they were caught.
“They are lucky to be looking forward to a court appearance where they will most likely lose their driving license for one or more years, be fined, and will have great difficulty in obtaining car insurance in the future.
“Many also risk losing their jobs or going to jail. The alternative consequences had they not been caught do not bear thinking about.
“We are appealing for everyone to take responsibility for road safety.
“Wear a seatbelt, reduce speed, take greater care and attention, and NEVER, EVER, DRINK AND DRIVE,” Assistant Chief Constable Todd said.
Reflecting on the figures, Environment Minister Mark H Durkan said: “Drink Driving has caused over 2,000 deaths and serious injuries since 2000. That is the shocking reality of mixing alcohol with driving. Given what we know about how dangerous it is to drive after drinking alcohol – it is disappointing that some drivers still choose to drink alcohol and then get behind the wheel of a car.
“Only last month, I launched a new anti-drink drive social media campaign to help raise awareness of the dangers of drink driving. The figures released today show that there is a need for a continuous effort and that we must not become complacent in our approach to road safety and dangerous behaviours on the road.
“My message to all drivers is clear, any drink will impair your driving ability. I would urge everyone to play their part in persuading drivers to Never Ever Drink and Drive.
“My Road Traffic Amendment Bill, which was passed by the NI Assembly this week, provides for lower drink drive limits, a new penalty regime and powers for roadside check-points. I anticipate that these new arrangements will be introduced later this year. The signal is clear – it is unacceptable in today’s society to drink and drive. Ultimately, it is up to each individual to act responsibly by not putting their lives and the lives of other people at risk.”