Breath-test meted out to 7,000

More than 7,000 motorists were asked to take a breath test as part of the annual festive season purge on drinking and driving in Norfolk and Suffolk, it emerged last night.

More than 7,000 motorists were asked to take a breath test as part of the annual festive season purge on drinking and driving in Norfolk and Suffolk, it emerged last night.

And police warned drivers not to risk ruining lives as they resolved to keep the pressure on anti-social drivers throughout this year.

In Norfolk, 135 of the 5,191 people stopped were arrested on suspicion of failing a test or refusing to take one.

In Suffolk, 95 of the 2,003 drivers involved gave samples that showed they were above the legal alcohol limit. A further five refused a test.

Norfolk police are to analyse their figures to find out the most common age groups for drink-drivers.

But it is thought the 17-25 group that usually takes the rap for the problem may only represent a

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small proportion of those caught.

Norfolk casualty reduction officer PC Michael Edney said it was tricky to judge whether the figures suggested a successful campaign. Last year, 54 people were arrested out of 2,839 stopped.

"The real measure of success will be if we see a reduction in the number of people killed or injured on our roads as a result of drink-driving," he said.

"It does seem that the message is getting across, and drink-driving certainly isn't socially acceptable in the same way it was 30 years ago."

PC Edney added: "The Christmas campaign may be over, but motorists should remember all year round that drinking and driving ruins lives."

Chief Insp Martin Barnes-Smith, head of Suffolk's roads policing unit, said efforts to reduce drink-driving would continue through 2007.

"It is pleasing that fewer people appeared to take the risk of having a drink and taking control of a motor vehicle, and it is particularly pleasing that the total number of collisions in December, 2006 (747) was substantially less than the number in 2005 (916)," he said.

"However, I am still disappointed that 95 people decided to put their lives and the lives of others at risk by drinking and driving."

If you think someone is driving under the influence of alcohol, you can report them on 0800 835 835 or via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.