‘Don’t be an idiot’ - Message to drink drivers after more than 130 arrests in Norfolk over Christmas

PUBLISHED: 09:18 13 January 2018 | UPDATED: 09:18 13 January 2018

Breathalyzer breath test checking the alcohol level of a protential drink driver.
 Breath alcohol testers used by Suffolk Police. Picture Archant.

Breathalyzer breath test checking the alcohol level of a protential drink driver. Breath alcohol testers used by Suffolk Police. Picture Archant.

Community action has been praised for helping the pursuit of drink and drug drivers in the county.

More than 130 people were arrested during a Norfolk Constabulary campaign to target those driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs with an increase in the percentage of drivers failing breath tests.

And one inspector has said the force’s ability to hunt drivers breaking the law has been helped by community intervention.

As part of its Christmas drink drive campaign, the force breathalysed 947 drivers for alcohol consumption with around one in 12 motorists (8.6pc) failing the test. This number was up from one in sixteen (6.4pc) in 2016.

In total 81 drivers provided positive readings during breathalyser tests and of the 172 drug tests conducted, 56 drivers failed.

Inspector Chris Hinitt, from the Norfolk and Suffolk Roads Policing Unit, said the rise in arrests is “disappointing” but the increase in convictions is being helped by members of the public.

“We have seen an increase in the amount of community intelligence about drink drivers and those who repeatedly drink drive,” he said.

“It is becoming more and more socially unacceptable to drink and drive and we know of people who are challenging those in pubs and stating they will call the police if they get in a car.”

Zilvians Neveckas, 34, from Havelock Road, Great Yarmouth, was arrested in the town after a member of the public reported his driving to the police.

He failed a breath test and was more than three times over the legal limit. He was later convicted in court.

The month-long campaign, launched on December 1, targeted drivers with patrols and roadside checks.

Insp Hinitt added that officers stopped a wide variety of drivers but there were some generational trends in the offences.

“Of course we do still stop young people who are drink driving but there are also those older people who do it because they have always done it and they think they can get away with it. “Generationally we are seeing more and younger people who are driving under the influence of cannabis and not always alcohol,” he added.

Drink drivers prosecuted in court

This year specific time slots at Norwich Magistrates Courts were reserved to deal with those caught drink or drug driving.

This meant offenders could lose their licence within 24-hours of being breathalysed.

Some of those prosecuted in court included;

• Neil Grimwood, 56, from Lone Barn Road in Norwich who was stopped after driving erratically. He provided a positive breath test of more than three times the legal limit. He was disqualified for 26 months and ordered to pay a £3,200 fine.

• Peter Thomas, 44, from The Archway, Lowestoft was breathalysed after a crash involving a brick wall. He provided a positive breath test and was arrested. He was disqualified for three years and ordered to pay £400.

• Martin Banfield, 46, from King Street, Norwich was stopped after being seen driving in an erratic manner. He provided a positive breath test and was disqualified for 28 months.

‘Don’t be an idiot’

Inspector Chris Hinitt, from the Norfolk and Suffolk Roads Policing Unit, claim officers have heard every excuse for drink driving.

Over the Christmas period he said officers tended to see two types of offenders.

“You have those who have gone out and have not prepared how to get home after having a drink so have driven,” he said.

“And there are those who are more hard core and are going to drink and drive regardless as they don’t think they will ever be stopped.”

His message for those considering driving while under the influence was simple: “Don’t be an idiot.”

He added: “If you are thinking about drinking and driving you are not only putting your life at risk but you are putting others at a major risk of an accident. “Don’t be selfish and don’t be stupid. If you are going out drinking plan your journey safely and if you do drive and decide to have a drink, don’t be tempted to drive.”

More than 100 arrested in Suffolk

A similar campaign was run by Suffolk Constabulary in December and saw more than 100 people arrested.

A total of 1,751 breath tests were carried out with 70 drivers providing positive readings. Of the 194 drug test conducted, 67 drivers failed.

Patrols and roadside checks were carried out with Suffolk having a 5pc fail rate of all people who were tested.

This was up from 4.6pc in 2016 when 1,329 tests were carried out in the county with 61 drivers failing.

Suffolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore, said: “I’d like to commend the great work of the roads policing unit over the Christmas period and their rigorous campaign to get drink and drug drivers off our roads.

“Every Christmas our message is the same and every year sadly there are still drivers that do not take heed. It is particularly upsetting to see a high percentage of the drivers tested for drugs were positive tests.”

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