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More drug drivers caught than drink drivers for first time in police campaign

PC Chris Alexander pulls over a driver as part of the summer drink and drug drive campaign. Picture: Dominic Gilbert

PC Chris Alexander pulls over a driver as part of the summer drink and drug drive campaign. Picture: Dominic Gilbert

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More than 180 people were arrested during the Christmas drink and drug driving campaign in Norfolk, with more people testing positive for drugs than alcohol.

The month-long campaign, launched on 1 December 2018, targeted drivers getting behind the wheel under the influence of alcohol and drugs with a total of 189 drivers arrested.

In Norfolk, 1,140 breath tests were carried out with 72 people providing positive readings, while 97 people failed drug tests out the 180 conducted. In addition, nine people were arrested for failing to provide a specimen while 11 people were arrested for being unfit to drive through drink or drugs.

During the 2017 campaign, 947 tests were carried out with 81 drivers providing positive readings. Of the 172 drug tests conducted 56 drivers failed. In addition, six people were arrested for failing to provide a specimen while 12 people were arrested for being unfit to drive through drink or drugs.

This year again saw specific time slots at Norwich and Ipswich Magistrates’ Courts being reserved to deal with those caught drink or drug driving. This effectively meant that offenders could lose their licence within 24 hours of being breathalysed whilst facing additional fines.

Chief Inspector Kris Barnard, Head of the Roads Armed Policing Team (RAPT), said: “It’s disappointing to see that people are still prepared to take the risk and get behind the wheel under the influence of alcohol, although it does appear to be a minority of motorists.

“A notable difference during this campaign is that there have been more drivers tested positive for drugs than alcohol. While this is a concern, drug driving is something we actively target all year round. It’s also a reflection of our increased ability to carry out roadside tests for cannabis and cocaine.

“Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol impairs your judgement, making your reactions slower and therefore increasing the chances of being involved in a collision.”

Prison officer convicted of drink driving

Some of those convicted during the Christmas drink and drug drive crackdown included a prison officer with more than 30 years’ service caught at twice the legal alcohol limit.

Andrew John Newson, 54, had been drinking in a pub near Wayland Prison where he works, magistrates in King’s Lynn heard on Monday, December 17.

Newson was banned from driving for 18 months, which can be reduced with successful completion of a drink-driver rehabilitation course and was fined £434 and ordered to pay £85 costs and £43 victim surcharge.

Newson, of Swan Road, Dereham, pleaded guilty to driving with excess alcohol on December 2. Police had been tipped off by a member of the public he was about to drive away from a pub.

The 54-year-old, who was unrepresented, told the magistrates: “I’d just like to apologise. It was totally out of character.”

Newson’s conviction followed the sentencing of both Michael Foley, 28 who was sentenced to a total of 34 weeks in prison after being caught almost five times the drink drive limit and Martin Bolton, 59, who was jailed for 18 weeks after being caught more than five times the limit.

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