Nearly 250 were arrested for drink-driving in West Yorkshire up to Christmas, figures reveal

West Yorkshire Police has launched its new Not The Usual Suspects campaign today.West Yorkshire Police has launched its new Not The Usual Suspects campaign today.
West Yorkshire Police has launched its new Not The Usual Suspects campaign today.
Police arrested nearly 250 people for drink and drug-driving offences across the region in the run up to Christmas last year, new figures show.

The force has revealed that in West Yorkshire, 239 people were arrested for being behind the wheel while under the influence in December 2015.

It comes as West Yorkshire Police has today launched a month-long Not The Usual Suspects campaign to challenge perception surrounding drink-drivers.

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Of the 239 arrested for the offence last year, the figures reveal 157 people were charged - nearly 15 per cent less than in 2014.

And police have also revealed that 25 per cent of those charged were women.

The force is trying to highlight that not all those who drink and drive at Christmas will be young men as part of their Not The Usual Suspects initiative.

In Leeds, 54 people were charged for the offence in 2015, while the figure was 34 for Bradford and 29 in Wakefield.

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In Kirklees, 31 people were charge and in Calderdale the figure was just 10.

The police imitative comes as the the national Think! anti drink-drive campaign launches this month.

West Yorkshire Police hopes its own campaign will challenge stereo-types - as well as deterring people from driving after drinking alcohol. 

The festive crackdown officially launched today and runs until January 1, and as part of the initiative, police will be releasing statistics about the offence every week.

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Sergeant Gary Roper, of the Force's Roads Policing Support Unit, said: ‘‘Driving while under the influence of drink or drugs is always a significant danger, but at Christmas the risks are even more prevalent with darker nights, bad weather and sadly, more people taking the risk by drinking or using drugs and then getting behind the wheel. 

"Statistically, young men do form a large proportion of those whom we stop for drink driving, however we are seeing more and more men, and increasingly women aged over 35 who are drink driving, many with the attitude 'it'll never happen to me.' It is quite harrowing as many of the people in this age range have been targeted by decades of campaigns about the dangers of drinking before getting behind the wheel. Last December, 43.% of everyone we arrested for drink driving offences were aged over 35. 

"These are people from all backgrounds, ethnicity and genders. Many of them have professional careers, they may have children and grandchildren and yet they are still choosing to get behind the wheel after consuming alcohol. We want to continue to drive home the message and make drink driving socially unacceptable no matter how old you are. 

‘‘Each year we stop hundreds of people who are clearly not in a fit state to drive through drink or drugs. The 2016 campaign is about hammering home the message that on a daily basis people across West Yorkshire are risking theirs and other people's lives and that drink or drug driving has extremely serious consequences.’’ 

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A conviction for driving while under the influence of drink and drugs will lead to a criminal record, a driving ban of at least a year and a fine up to £5,000. 

Sgt Roper added: ‘‘The effect of a drink driving conviction can be devastating. Drivers are three times more likely to die in a road traffic collision if they have been drinking. In my time as an officer, I have seen people lose their job, career and relationships. If you're going out to drink any amount please leave your car keys at home or allocate a designated driver. Driving after having a drink is simply not worth the risk.’’ added Sergeant Roper. 

"The number of drink driving charges is decreasing nationally which is a step in the right direction. While we would like to think that this is because people are more aware of the dangers of getting behind the wheel after a few drinks, the reality is that the decline is small and there are still plenty of people out there willing to take the risk. Many people are those we have been targeting for some years, who will have seen decades of drink driving campaigns but still take the risk.  

Assistant Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police Mark Milsom said: ‘‘During the last few years we have seen the largest number of arrests for drink and drug driving related offences for both men and women aged over 35 increase. These are people that have grown up with the current drink driving laws and it's a very concerning trend. 

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‘‘It's vitally important these people, many of which will have careers and who may have a young family, realise the life-limiting consequences associated with a drink or drug driving conviction. 

‘‘There's also the very real dangers associated with not being fit to drive. Each year we deal with a number of fatal or very serious incidents in which driving while under the influence of drink or drugs has been a major factor. This has led to the deaths of innocent drivers and pedestrians and the awful task many officers have of standing on a family's doorstep and telling them that someone's never coming home. 

"My hope is that by challenging the public perception about drink drivers that we demonstrate yet again, the real risk everyone takes after drink or drug driving when they get behind the wheel." 

Mark Burns-Williamson, West Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, said: "At the end of the day the consequences far out way any benefit an individual may see before driving while unfit and it’s simply not worth the risk to you or the people around you. I hope that this campaign will remind people of what’s important at this time of year and it’s certainly isn’t risking your life and the lives around you. 

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"We want to ensure everyone has a great time over this festive period and no-one is affected by a drink/drug driver."

As part of the campaign, West Yorkshire Police will be releasing weekly figures on the numbers of people arrested for drink driving.