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Police hail new drink-drive ads as offences fall

A SUMMER drink-drive crackdown by police has been hailed a success, with the number of motorists caught over the limit down on last year.

More than 9000 drivers were stopped in Scotland in a two-week campaign ending last weekend. 169 of them have been charged after testing positive for potentially dangerous alcohol levels.

In the same two-week period last year 280 motorists were charged with drink-driving.

Police claim the cut in arrests shows the impact of the Don't Risk It publicity campaign, accompanied by television adverts warning drivers of the personal consequences of being caught drink-driving, and of Police Scotland's tough stance on motoring offences. That has seen a huge surge in speeding tickets since the single force was created in April last year.

But Superintendent Iain Murray, head of road policing for the force, said too many drivers still ignored the risk of drink-driving: "Although the figures are encouraging and we have taken yet more irresponsible people off the roads, we will continue to target drivers who believe they can drive while under the influence and who are prepared to take the risk," he said.

He added: "This particular campaign has come to a conclusion. However, Police Scotland is committed to enforcing road safety in Scotland, and with a driver stopped by police on average every two minutes on our roads, the continued risk of being caught is higher than ever. There has never been a greater priority and focus on casualty reduction and making our roads safer."

But other figures from Police Scotland this week appeared to cast doubt on the force's strategy, with total Scottish road deaths up for the first time in six years.

Road deaths increased by 24 to 191 in 2013/14 despite the force's much-touted hard line on traffic offences. The figures included a 55 per cent increase in motorcyclist deaths and a 50 per cent more cyclists killed.

The Scottish Government has also been frustated in its efforts to cut the legal drink drive limit by delays at Whitehall in calibrating breathalysers to the revised limit.

Holyrood has the power to set its own limits but control over recalibrating equipment is still reserved and it is understood the delays have come about while Westminster prioritises the production of new drug-drive testers for England and Wales.

In the meantime, drink-drive campaigners in Scotland have urged drivers not to drink anything at all before getting behind the wheel.

The new limit - 50 micrograms of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood instead of the current 80mcg - will cut the amount motorists can safely drink to less than a pint of lager.

Cabinet Secretary for Justice, Kenny MacAskill said: "Having just one alcoholic drink before driving makes you three times more likely to be involved in a fatal car crash and 169 drivers under the influence of drink or drugs on our roads is still 169 too many."

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