Summer drink and drug-drive campaign

Thames Valley Police will be taking part in the European TISPOL (European Traffic Police Network) campaign to crack down on motorists who are drinking and drug-driving.

Police forces across Europe will be increasing the number of roadside checks and drivers breathalysed and tested for drugs throughout the week.

Thames Valley Police will then continue these checks as part of the NPCC (National Police Chiefs’ Council) campaign which will run throughout June and into July and coincide with the UEFA Euro Championships.

Drivers who are found to be unfit to drive or over the drink or drug-drive limit will be arrested.

Sgt Chris Appleby, from the Roads Policing Department, said: “Driving after drinking is a major cause of death and injury on our roads. Alcohol impairs many of the functions necessary for safe driving and the risk of death or injury rapidly increases with alcohol consumption, it’s not worth the risk.

“This is the first drink and drug-drive campaign this year, following on from the success of the 2015 national Christmas drink and drug-driving campaign.  Nationally 110,226 motorists were breathalysed with 5,543 (five per cent) testing positive, refused to provide or failed There were also 1,888 drug screening device tests administered, 931 of which (49 per cent) were positive.

“A new report (March 2016) written and published on behalf of the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport (PACTS) has confirmed that alcohol is the biggest impairment to drivers.

“On 2 March 2015 the drug-driving law changed to make it easier for the police to catch and convict drug-drivers. Seventeen legal and illegal drugs are covered by the law, including cannabis, cocaine, ecstasy and ketamine. The limits for all illegal drugs are extremely low – taking even a very small amount of an illegal drug could put drivers over the limit.

“However, a recent survey by Brake Road Safety Charity revealed a shocking one in 16 drivers (six per cent) admit they drive at least once a month after having taken drugs. The Department for Transport confirmed a six-fold increase in the number of people caught drug-driving in the 12 months since the law change.

“Official figures show 47 road deaths and 197 serious injuries in 2014 were caused when a driver was impaired by some kind of drug.

“This campaign will draw drivers’ attention to the risks posed by using drink or drugs while in control of a vehicle and the serious penalties which they will face when they are caught.”

Drink or drug-drivers can expect a fine of up to £5,000, a custodial sentence of up to six months and a mandatory disqualification of 12 months, as well as three to 11 points on their licence.

Last Thursday (2/6) Maria Sutton was sentenced to a total of four years and one month in prison for causing death by driving without due care and attention whilst being over the prescribed alcohol limit, and perverting the course of justice in Oxfordshire.

A road traffic collision occurred between a Kia Cee’d and a bicycle in Wallingford Road, Cholsey, at about 10.15pm on Thursday 4 June last year.

The cyclist, 54-year-old Graham Ruecroft, was taken to hospital but died of his injuries on 9 June. Maria Sutton, aged 28, of Newlands Way, Cholsey, was driving the Kia Cee’d at the time of the collision, and later contacted police to falsely report her car as stolen.

Sutton was arrested on 5 June 2015. On 16 September 2015 she was charged with one count of causing death by driving without due care and attention whilst being over the prescribed alcohol limit.

In a statement, Malcolm Ruecroft, brother of Graham, said: “I hope Maria Sutton will use her time in custody to reflect on her actions and understand that she has robbed a family of a loving and considerate individual whose life was cut short during a moment of stupidity caused by the effects of alcohol.

“I have unfortunately had the sad opportunity to listen to the telephone call of Maria Sutton reporting her car stolen, and this can be heard on the Thames Valley Police anti-drink and drug-driving campaign and I challenge everyone to listen to this.”

Watch a video of Malcolm talking about the case, and warning against drink and drug-driving, on Thames Valley Police’s YouTube channel (opens new window).

Follow the campaign on Twitter using #ItsNotWorthTheRisk for updates throughout the week.

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