Jingle bells, here’s our cells, open every day; If you drive with drink or drugs, you’ll soon be on your way.
This is the message being issued as Surrey and Sussex Police prepare to launch their 2018 Christmas crackdown on drink and drug-drivers.
To coincide with this, we’re introducing a number of colourful characters to illustrate the effects of driving under the influence.
But while we ho-ho-hope you have fun this festive season, we can assure you driving with drink or drugs in your system is no laughing matter.
A total of 56 people died in road traffic collisions in Sussex last year, 13 of which involved a drink-driver – representing 23 per cent of all fatal collisions in the county (statistics from the Sussex Safer Roads Partnership).
Chief Inspector Andy Gooch, of the Surrey and Sussex Roads Policing Unit, said: “Arguably the hardest part of any police officer’s job is telling someone that one of their loved ones has died. When you consider it could so easily have been avoided, it becomes even harder.
“Drink and drug-driving destroys lives. It happens year on year and sadly, despite our repeated warnings, there will always be a minority of selfish and shameful individuals who still continue to put the lives of themselves and others at risk.
“Our aims of this campaign are to save lives by deterring people from drink and drug-driving, and to deal robustly with offenders.”
Surrey and Sussex Police will have a number of officers committed to the campaign, which runs from 1 December to 1 January inclusive.
Details of those convicted – including their name, age, address and occupation – will be published online. This is in line with our previous campaigns, with the intention to deter people from getting behind the wheel while high on drink or drugs.
During the same campaign last year (1 December 2017 to 1 January 2018), a total of 195 arrests were made in Sussex, of which at least 130 have since been convicted.
Chief Insp Gooch said: “While this is a dedicated campaign which occurs twice a year during peak periods – at Christmas and in the summer – we still respond to reports of drink and drug-drivers as part of our routine policing 365 days a year.
“If you’re going to consume drink or drugs, we’d encourage you to plan ahead – walk home, book a taxi, take public transport or get a lift with someone sober. Never get into a vehicle with someone you know is over the limit.
“Also be mindful of the amount of time it takes for substances to leave your body. Even if you’ve slept for several hours, you could still be over the limit the next morning. And a coffee and a cold shower won’t speed up the process.”
The Sussex Safer Roads Partnership has a morning after calculator on its website, where you can find out roughly how long it takes before you can safely drive.
Chief Insp Gooch added: “If you’re planning to drive after ‘just a couple’, it’s more than likely you’ll be over the limit. The only way to guarantee you’re under the limit is to drink OR drive; never both.”
If you’re prepared to drive under the influence of drink or drugs, prepare to face the consequences. These could include the following:
A minimum 12 month ban;
An unlimited fine;
A possible prison sentence;
A criminal record, which could affect your current and future employment;
An increase in your car insurance costs;
Trouble travelling to countries such as the USA.
If you know someone is driving while over the limit or after taking drugs, call 999.
Alternatively, people in Sussex can text officers on 65999 with the details of people they suspect of drink or drug-driving, or visit the Operation Crackdown website.
You can also contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or report it online.
The campaign is being run in conjunction with the Sussex Safer Roads Partnership and DriveSmart in Surrey.