The percentage of people failing a breath test in December 2012 fell slightly compared with the previous year, but there are signs that drug driving may be on the increase.
Official Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) figures show that police officers carried out almost 20,000 more breath tests in December 2012 compared with 2011.
In December 2012 more than 175,000 people were stopped and tested for drink driving compared with nearly 157,000 people in 2011. The total number that refused or failed a test fell from 7,124 (4.55%) to 7,123 (4.05%).
Focusing on the under 25s, police breathalysed more than 1,000 extra drivers in this age category compared with December 2011. With 104 fewer under-25s failing tests, this equates to a reduction from 5.73% to 5.27%.
In December 2012 police also tested 137,671 drivers over the age of 25 – nearly 20,000 more than in 2011. With 115 fewer people failing, the percentage fell from 4.05% to 3.39%.
Deputy Chief Constable Suzette Davenport, ACPO lead for roads policing, said: “It’s good to see that yet again the majority of drivers are responsible and sensible. Our results show that by far the majority of drivers stopped did not drink or take drugs and drive.
“We made it absolutely clear to drivers before Christmas that we would be stepping up our efforts to breathalyse them and we warned people against the dangers of drink and drug driving.”
When it came to drug-driving the figures were less encouraging. In December 2012 police conducted 360 field impairment tests (FIT) compared with 540 in 2011. The percentage of Section 4 arrests following a FIT increased from 16.85% in December 2011 to 21.39% in 2012.
Commenting on the significant reduction in FITs carried out this year compared to 2011, an ACPO spokesman said: “Similar to drink drivers, officers carry out field impairment tests where they suspect those of being under the influence of drugs and officers can only respond to the cases they are faced with.
“While the number of those tested did fall, the percentage of drivers arrested was higher in 2012 compared with 2011 and 2010 and is evidence of officers continuing to tackle this very serious offence.”
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