POLICE are preparing to profile and target potential drink-drivers based on their age and gender following the roll-out of new technology.

Assistant Chief Constable Mark Williams said new “digital breathalysers” have been introduced across Scotland over the last few months, capable of recording the gender, age and location of those stopped.

This information will be fed into Police Scotland’s intelligence gathering, giving officers an overview of which groups offend most often – and allowing them to be targeted. 

Mr Williams said: “All of that provides demographic intelligence in terms of the type of person who’s drinking and driving and is over the limit."

It came as police, ministers and Scotland’s top law officer, the Lord Advocate James Wolffe QC, joined forces to warn of the dire consequences of being caught driving while over the limit this Christmas.

Launching a festive drink-drive campaign in Edinburgh, officers said 567 drivers failed breath tests in the run-up to Christmas last year – including one woman who was caught three times in the same week.

They stressed the serious consequences of flouting the law, including receiving a criminal record, an automatic driving ban or losing your job.

Mr Wolffe said drink-driving is “unacceptable and brings misery and devastation to families and loved ones across our communities”.

He said: “My message is very clear: you can expect to be caught and when you are, you will face the full force of the law.

"Motorists in Scotland should also be aware of the tough legal and personal consequences of drink-driving.

"Not only could you lose your vehicle but you will receive an automatic ban of at least 12 months, a criminal record and a potentially unlimited fine. It is absolutely not worth taking the risk."

More than 20,000 drivers are stopped by the police every month in Scotland. From December 1, there will be an even stronger focus on drink-driving in the run-up to Christmas.

Police Scotland now has at least 150 digital breathalysers in use across the country, costing in the region of £250 each – with plans to purchase more in the years ahead.

The breathalysers indicate whether drivers are over the limit, but officers still have to take suspects back to police stations and use more accurate tests to secure convictions.

Officers manually enter the age, gender and location of users into the digital tools, as well as the reason they were stopped, before this data is fed into police systems.

Mr Williams said this data would not identify individuals. He said: “They merely allow us to get a better picture of the types – again, gender and age.

“It allows us to get a better idea quickly of those who we are breathalysing, the age group, the age range, whether it’s positive or not, or even close to or between the limits.”

Asked if the data would influence which drivers were stopped in future, he said: "Yes, it’s information that will be utilised in that way.”

Mr Williams said police will use static road checks and mobile patrols over the festive period to target offenders, as well as acting on tip-offs.

He said: “My message here is really clear today: it’s not worth it. One drink can put you over the limit, could make you a drunk driver, could give you a criminal record.

“And the implications of that on yourself, your family, your employment, your vehicle – because on occasions it will be forfeited – are really significant, and it’s not worth it for the sake of that one drink.”

Of the 567 drivers who failed a breath test in the run-up to Christmas last year, around seven or eight per cent were stopped by police the morning after consuming alcohol.

Community safety minister Ash Denham said the consequences of drink-driving could be “life-changing”, with a persistent minority of drivers continuing to ignore the law.

She said: “A drink-driving conviction can be devastating, with significant criminal, personal, social and employment consequences.

"We want to send a message out to people: don't drink and drive. Don't risk it at Christmas, but also the best policy is just not to drink anything at all, rather than to have one and think that you might be okay.

"The police are stopping about 20,000 drivers a month. If you're stopped and breathalysed – if you're caught, even if you're just slightly over the limit, in the eyes of the law you're still a criminal, and that can have far-reaching consequences for yourself and for your family."

Scotland lowered the legal drink-drive limit from 80mg to 50mg in every 100ml of blood in 2014.

This limits the average man to just under a pint of beer or a large glass of wine, while the average women is confined to half a pint or a small glass of wine.