1 in 15 drivers breathalysed by police over festive period found to be under the influence

Officers tested 8,687 motorists between December 1 and January 2. Picture: SWNS
Officers tested 8,687 motorists between December 1 and January 2. Picture: SWNS
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One in every 15 drivers breathalysed by police over the festive period was found to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Officers tested 8,687 motorists between December 1 and January 2, with 580 found to be breaking the law.

A total of 29 drivers were caught the morning after they had been drinking, Police Scotland said.

Incidents recorded by police include a man seen staggering from the Gyle Shopping Centre in Edinburgh and entering his vehicle, before crashing.

He was later arrested and found to be seven times over the limit.

In the Borders, a woman who was five times over the limit was found in her car upside down having crashed the vehicle into a field.

A male tractor driver was found to be twice the limit in Ayrshire after his tractor trailer became detached and collided with three parked vehicles.

Following a change in the law in October 2019, police officers are now able to carry out immediate tests using mouth swabs for any motorist they suspect of drug driving.

• READ MORE: Festive drink-driving on the increase as 154 motorists a day caught over the limit
During the Christmas and New Year period, officers carried out 480 roadside drug screening tests, with 185 testing positive.

Head of road policing Chief Superintendent Louise Blakelock said the number of people found to have taken drink or drugs before driving was "disappointing".

"Over the course of our festive road safety campaign, one in 15 drivers were detected for drink/drug offences which is extremely disappointing," she said.

"The dangers of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs are well known yet some drivers are still willing to take the risk.

"This is the first year we have been able to test drivers at the roadside for drugs.

"Almost 500 roadside tests were carried out with 185 drivers providing positive results, incredibly 16 who tested positive are required to drive as part of their employment and may lose their jobs."

Ms Blakelock continued: "Once again this year, a number of drivers were reported to us by colleagues, friends or family members and I wish to thank everyone who had the courage to report drink or drug drivers and I ask that you continue to report concerning driving behaviour to us.

"This information helps our officers to act quickly to stop drivers who are under the influence before they kill or seriously injure someone.

"We will continue to take action against those who selfishly put others at risk by driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Our message is simple: the best approach is none."

Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said the laws are in place to keep everyone safe on Scotland's roads.

He added: "It is staggering that some people are still reckless and selfish enough to take drugs or alcohol before getting behind the wheel of a car - putting themselves as well as other road users at risk.

"While responsibility for obeying the law rests solely with individual motorists, I commend those who took active steps to convince friends, relatives or colleagues not to drive with drink or drugs in their system - or who, perhaps in challenging circumstances, reported individuals they suspected of drink or drug driving to the police.

"They can take some comfort in knowing that they stood up for the law and for common sense, and perhaps even prevented a tragedy from happening."