This is the message being issued as Surrey Police and Sussex Police prepare to launch their 2019 Christmas crackdown on drink and drug-drivers.
Increased patrols and stop checks will be carried out throughout this month, when there tends to be more social occasions which could result in motorists driving under the influence.
But while we ho-ho-hope you have fun this festive season, we can assure you driving with drink or drugs in your system is no laughing matter.
A total of 1,003 people were killed or seriously injured in road traffic collisions in Sussex last year, 74 of which involved a drink-driver (statistics from the Sussex Safer Roads Partnership).
In the 12 months to November 2019, a total of 696 people were killed or seriously injured in road traffic collisions in Surrey (alcohol-related incidents unknown at time of publication).
Chief Inspector Michael Hodder, of the Surrey and Sussex Roads Policing Unit, said: “Christmas is typically considered a time of ‘giving’ and ‘sharing’. But don’t give us an excuse to arrest you, and don’t let us share the bad news with your loved ones if you’re involved in a collision.
“This campaign is all about education and enforcement. Our main aims are to save lives by deterring people from drink and drug-driving, and to deal robustly with offenders. As such, we will continue to publicise the names of those convicted as part of the campaign.”
The crackdown runs from Wednesday 18 December 2019 to Wednesday 1 January 2020 inclusive, in line with guidance from the National Police Chief’s Council. However, this will be in addition to our routine daily policing.
Chief Insp Hodder said: “While this is a dedicated campaign which occurs twice a year during peak periods – at Christmas and in the summer – we still respond to reports of drink and drug-drivers 365 days a year.
“It is no secret that drink and drug-driving destroys lives. It happens year on year and sadly, despite our repeated warnings, there will always be a minority of selfish and shameful individuals who still continue to put the lives of themselves and others at risk.”
During the same campaign last year (1 December 2018 to 1 January 2019), a total of 240 arrests were made in Sussex and 108 arrests were made in Surrey.
Chief Insp Hodder said: “If you’re going to consume drink or drugs, we’d encourage you to plan ahead – walk home, book a taxi, take public transport or get a lift with a sober driver. Never get into a vehicle with someone you know is over the limit.
“If you’re planning to drive after ‘just a couple’, it’s more than likely you’ll be over the limit. The only way to guarantee you’re under the limit is to drink OR drive; never both.
“Also be mindful of the amount of time it takes for substances to leave your body. Even if you’ve slept for several hours, you could still be over the limit the next morning. And a coffee and a cold shower won’t speed up the process.”
The Sussex Safer Roads Partnership has a morning after calculator on its website, where you can find out roughly how long it takes before you can safely drive:
If you’re prepared to drive under the influence of drink or drugs, prepare to face the consequences. These could include the following:
• Killing or seriously injuring yourself or someone else;
• A minimum 12 month ban;
• An unlimited fine;
• A possible prison sentence;
• A criminal record, which could affect your current and future employment;
• An increase in your car insurance costs;
• Trouble travelling to countries such as the USA.
If you know someone is driving while over the limit or after taking drugs, call 999.
Alternatively, people in Sussex can text officers on 65999 with the details of people they suspect of drink or drug-driving, or visit the Operation Crackdown website. www.operationcrackdown.co.uk
You can also contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or report it online. www.crimestoppers-uk.org
The campaign is being run in conjunction with the Sussex Safer Roads Partnership and DriveSmart in Surrey.