Hampshire police warning to drink-drivers as arrests increase

WATCH OUT Police officers with breathalysers are on the hunt for drink-drivers
WATCH OUT Police officers with breathalysers are on the hunt for drink-drivers

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POLICE today warned ‘selfish’ drink-drivers they face the full force of the law after figures revealed arrests for the crime have risen despite a high-profile campaign.

New statistics show drink-drive arrests in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight are up three per cent on this time last year.

And there have been more drink-driving arrests in the Eastern area – which covers Portsmouth, Fareham, Gosport and Havant and the Isle of Wight – than anywhere else in the two counties.

Arrests in that area account for 38 per cent of the total – and of those 11 were in Fareham and Gosport, seven in Portsmouth, four on the Isle of Wight and two in Havant.

Chief Inspector Andy Bottomley of Hampshire Police warned drink drivers it was ‘only a matter of time’ before they faced justice.

He said: ‘We’ll be out throughout this month taking every opportunity to breath test drivers and where we receive a positive result that person will be arrested and will find themselves in police custody.

‘Drink-driving is no laughing matter. It’s stupid, it’s reckless and it kills. Is a drink really worth killing for? If you drink-drive it’s only a matter of time before we catch you, so do yourself, your family and everyone else a favour and make a choice – drink, or drive but not both.’

Officers have arrested 64 people on suspicion of drink-driving since December 1.

Of those 39 were charged, 18 were bailed and seven released with no further action. The youngest suspect is 18 and the oldest 81, with the average age of offenders being 37.

Superintendent Chris Brown – who is leading Hampshire police’s Don’t Get Smashed Christmas campaign – told The News: ‘It’s about selfishness. We’ve got people who are doing it at a social party, particularly at Christmas. It’s about taking a risk.

‘We have got people who are deliberately doing it and flouting the law; we have then got those people who drive the morning after and drink-drive.

‘They are taking all the right steps but they are still over the limit.

‘Unfortunately we have got a situation where sadly some people are alcoholics and their concern about getting caught is the last thing on their mind.’

The force is displaying the wreck of a Vauxhall Corsa in which a 23-year-old woman drink-driver died in November last year in Guildhall Square tonight, Friday and at Gunwharf Quays on December 21 to highlight the dangers of drink-driving.

The Spinnaker Tower will be lit yellow in memory of the woman, whose family wishes to remain anonymous.

Drivers urged to steer clear

POLICE are backing The News’ Steer Clear campaign which rewards designated drivers for staying alcohol-free.

We are calling on pubs and clubs to offer a free soft drink to designated drink-drivers out on the town this Christmas.

Anyone who takes part will have the name of their establishment added to our roll of honour which will be printed in The News and online at portsmouth.co.uk.

Meanwhile police are urging people to report anyone suspected of drink-driving by texting their details including car registration to 80999.