Page last updated at 07:13 GMT, Wednesday, 29 July 2009 08:13 UK

Force breath tests 20,700 drivers

Policeman breathalyses a motorist
Motorists face at least a year's driving ban if caught over the limit

A police force has breath tested a record 20,772 motorists in a month and warned the public they are "relentlessly" targeting drink drivers.

Gwent Police has adopted "mass screening" testing to find those under the influence of drink and drugs.

In June, 18,817 more were stopped than the same month in 2008 with 124 people - 0.59% - testing positive.

The force said it led to 54% fewer collisions on the roads. The RAC Foundation supported the testing.

Gwent Police's total followed an approach described as a "relentless focus" to drink-driving. It also added to a record month of testing by all four Welsh police forces.

Of the 35,347 drivers tested by South Wales, Gwent, North Wales and Dyfed-Powys forces, 651 tested either positive, refused or failed to provide a sample.

During this year's campaign:

  • South Wales Police: 4,188 tests were carried out with 283 positive results (6.75% of those tested).
  • Gwent Police: 20,772 tests were carried out with 124 positives (0.59% of drivers tested).
  • Dyfed-Powys Police: 3,426 motorists were tested with 119 positives (3.47% of those tested).
  • North Wales Police: 6,961 drivers were tested with 125 positives, (1.79% of tested motorists).

Gwent Police stopped the biggest number of motorists by all forces and said it was part of a new method of testing, where motorists were being stopped on all roads - apart from the M4 motorway - in the force area, all day, everyday.

A spokeswoman said: "We're doing tests as routine, morning, noon and night. It's very high profile and it seems to be working. In June we stopped more people than we ever have before.

"I think the fact people are seeing others being stopped at the roadside also helps."

Most of the 20,722 people who took the breath test in the force area did so on a voluntary basis and agreed to pass on the message to friends and work colleagues that they had been stopped and asked to take the test.

You will end up in court and receive at least a one year driving ban
You will have a criminal record
You will lose your licence
You could face jail or a fine of up to £5,000
You could lose your job
Source: South Wales Police

Chief Constable Mick Giannasi said he believed the results of the campaign were already being seen.

"The reduction by over half in the number collisions is particularly pleasing," he said.

"Whilst the campaign was running during the month of June, there were only 151 reported collisions on the roads of Gwent compared to 326 during the same period last year.

"This bucks the national trend where the number of collisions was broadly the same as last year."

The RAC Foundation, which protects the interests of motorists, said it supported the crackdown.

"This year, Gwent constabulary's approach to reduce drink-driving by testing over 20,000 motorists has clearly proved successful," a spokesman said.

"Not many drivers seem to have risked drinking and driving on the county's roads and the RAC Foundation hopes this will be realised in fewer accidents by drink-drivers on Gwent's roads."

Meanwhile, South Wales Police roads safety manager Wayne Tucker said all forces in Wales would continue to target drink-drivers.

"The number of breath tests shows just how committed we are to tackling drink-driving which is reckless and risks lives," he said.

"The message is clear - if you drink and drive, we will catch you."

During last year's summer drink-drive campaign, 12,085 drivers were breath tested by the four Welsh police forces, with 507 testing positive.

The legal limit for alcohol when driving is 35mg of alcohol in 100ml of breath.

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