‘Drink driving devastates lives so please don’t take the risk’ – Essex Police’s plea as they launch summer anti-drink drive campaign.

THIS year’s initiative starts tomorrow (Saturday June 1) and continues to June 30 and will crack down on those who choose to get behind the wheel under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol.

Police will be stepping up road checks in towns with bustling night time economies and rural areas where some drivers believe they have less chance of getting caught drunk behind the wheel.

As well as breath tests, officers will be testing drivers for drug use with road side impairment tests and targeting those who use the road to commit other types of crime.

Essex Police is asking everyone to help keep the roads safe by taking responsibility and:

• Stopping family and friends getting behind the wheel if they have had an alcoholic drink

• Dialling 999 if you know someone is drunk and you see them getting behind the wheel of a car

• Calling Essex Police on 101 to give police information about someone who regularly chooses to drink and drive

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• Telling Crimestoppers anonymously about people who regularly choose to drink and drive by calling 0800 555 111 or visiting crimestoppers-uk.org

Drink driving risks lives, not just that of the driver and their passengers but other innocent people using the road. It can result in a criminal record, the loss of a driving licence or a fine of up to £5000. More seriously, it can kill or injure someone and leave the driver facing up to 14 years in prison and having to live with their actions for the rest of their lives.

Adam Pipe, Essex Police’s casualty reduction manager, is heading up this year’s campaign.

He said: “Drinking and driving is a lethal combination but for reasons I will never understand there are still some selfish and foolish people who choose to drink and drive, putting themselves and the lives of other innocent road users at risk.

“We are all hoping for some warmer weather soon and want everyone to enjoy their summer. But with the arrival of the sun comes lazy afternoon barbecues, drinks in pub gardens and the temptation to have ‘just one more’.

“Just one or two pints of beer or a glass of wine could put your over the limit but we’re pushing home the message that just one drink is too many. If you want to drink please be safe and designate a driver who will stick to soft drinks or take public transport home.

“Driving under the influence is just not worth the risk. Think about the consequences – losing your licence could mean losing your job and leave you unable to pay your mortgage or rent. More seriously, you could face imprisonment and the prospect of having to live with the guilt of taking a life for the rest of yours.

“Please help make the roads of Essex safer, please don’t drink and drive.”

Last year, Crimestoppers received nearly 90 calls about those drink driving in Essex.

Ann Scott, eastern regional manager for the charity, said: “Some people may have information about a regular drink driver but feel uncomfortable going directly to the police especially if they are a neighbour, family member or friend. There is a safe alternative in passing information to the independent charity Crimestoppers.

“We take this information 100 per cent anonymously. We never ask for the caller’s name or any personal details, we do not trace or record our calls and those giving information do not have to give a statement to the police or go to court. Nobody will know you called.

“In the 25 years we have been running our charity has never broken its promise of anonymity. You could even get a cash reward of up to £1,000.

“By telling our charity about someone who regularly drinks alcohol and drives you could be saving someone’s life.”

Essex County Councillor Rodney Bass, cabinet member for Highways and Transportation, said: “As summer approaches and the weather gets warmer, Essex residents will understandably want to be out enjoying themselves.

“However, people should remember that drink drivers put themselves and others in serious danger and getting behind the wheel after drinking can have a devastating impact on people’s lives.

“My message to residents is that if you’ve had a drink, make sure you use public transport or take a taxi home.”

• Visitors to the Essex Police website will be able to find out how many people are arrested for drink driving during the campaign. A totaliser showing the number of people breathalysed and found to be driving over the legal alcohol limit will be regularly updated at essex.police.uk/summerdrinkdrive