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Police reveal New Forest arrest numbers from Christmas drink-drive crackdown

Thirteen arrests were made in the New Forest by Hampshire Police during Operation Holly
Thirteen arrests were made in the New Forest by Hampshire Police during Operation Holly

THIRTEEN drink-drivers were arrested in the New Forest during a Christmas crackdown by the police – more than double the number two years ago.

The figures were revealed by the Hampshire and Thames Valley force’s joint Operation Holly.

They ran a public campaign pleading with drivers not to get behind the wheel while impaired through drink or drugs and released details on previous fatal cases.

However, 13 in the local district did not heed the advice. The figure was up on the 11 caught in 2017 over the same period and six in 2016. Zero drug-drivers were arrested compared to two in each of the two previous years.

The 2018 New Forest figures went against the trend in Hampshire and Thames Valley overall, which showed a 5% decrease in drink-driving arrests and a 28% increase in drug-driving.

In Hampshire alone there were 275 drink and drug-driving arrests during Operation Holly, of which 201 were for drink-driving.

Sgt Rob Heard, of the Roads Policing Unit for Hampshire and Thames Valley police, said: “We’ve seen a small drop in the number arrested for drink-driving, which is good.

“However, there continues to be a steady rise in the number caught for drug-driving over the last few years.”

The drug-driving increase may be because officers can now do roadside drug testing, he said, and he pointed out there only needs to be a trace of one of the eight illegal drugs and no proof of impairment was required for a conviction.

Sgt Heard added: “Our message is simple – don’t mix drink or drugs with driving, they may stay longer in your system than you think. It’s not worth the risk.

“Such behaviour on our roads has far-reaching effects not just for the impaired driver, but for any innocent road users affected by their destructive decisions. It is disappointing that some people still take that risk.”

The New Forest area had the joint fifth highest number of drink-drivers of the Hampshire districts. Eastleigh and East Hampshire had the same number and only large conurbations such as Winchester (16), Basingstoke and Portsmouth (both with 25), and Southampton (28) had more.

In all, there were over 4,200 breath tests carried out during Operation Holly by roads policing officers with 155 drivers blowing over the drink drive limit.

The worst offending drink driving age group were 35-49 years; the highest number of drug drivers were aged 17-24.

Over half of the 284 drivers tested for drugs had a positive result, and 150 who had a drug wipe test had a trace in their system. A further 26 were arrested for failing a field impairment test.

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