Police today launched their annual Christmas campaign to catch drivers who are unfit to be at the wheel.
Road checkpoints are being set up at key locations across the county for the whole of December in a bid to arrest people who should not be on the roads.
And for the first time the festive crackdown will see officers using saliva testing kits alongside the standard breath tests, meaning motorists will not only be tested for alcohol but also for cannabis and cocaine.
Modelled on drink-driving tests, the drug-driving legislation, which was introduced in March 2015, makes it an offence for motorists to drive with certain drugs above a specified level in their blood.
This years’ campaign was being launched in Market Square, Lancaster, with officers teaming up with Lancashire County Council’s Wasted Lives team and other emergency services.
Officers were on hand to demonstrate the drug-drive testing equipment to the public. And in a graphic reminder of the devastating effect it can have on families, car from a fatal road traffic collision, in which a man died after drink driving, was put on show.
Last year, a total of 5,012 drink drive tests were carried out across the county in December, with 153 people failing the test and four refusing to provide a specimen – resulting in a failure rate of 3.1 per cent.
Inspector Andy Trotter from the county’s Road Policing Unit said: “This Christmas will be the first year we have used the new drug-testing kits alongside standard kits for alcohol testing, which means we are better equipped than ever to identify those who take this very dangerous risk.
“We will also be focusing our activity on late night revellers who may still be over the limit the morning after and we are particularly keen to get the message across young drivers, who may be tempted to take the risk.
“If you drive at twice the legal alcohol limit you are at least 30 times more likely to cause a road traffic collision than a driver who hasn’t been drinking, potentially resulting in serious injury or death. A conviction could also mean that you lose your job, home, family and friends. The consequences can be absolutely devastating.
“We are determined to keep our roads safe, whether that is at night or the morning after and we will be working throughout the festive period to keep the public safe. We want people to enjoy the festive season but to remember the consequences of driving whilst under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
“If you’re out partying this Christmas then please plan ahead and book a taxi, check public transport times or don’t drink. If you know of someone who is driving under the influence of drink or drugs then please do the right thing and call us on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously before they kill themselves or somebody else.”