More than 170 drivers were arrested during a Christmas drink and drug driving campaign across County Durham and Cleveland.
Throughout the annual initiative, which runs between December and the beginning of January, almost 3,000 drivers were tested to see if they were intoxicated whilst behind the wheel.
A total of 173 were arrested – 116 in connection with driving whilst under the influence of alcohol and 57 of the arrests were in connection with drug driving.
During this campaign, police teamed up with a local venue to offer free soft drinks to designated drivers. The Keys on Yarm High Street offered the soft drinks to customers using their pub during the week before Christmas.
Chief Inspector Graham Milne, from the Cleveland and Durham Specialist Operations Unit, said: “The number of arrests this year has decreased slightly, meaning that there has been a marginal improvement in the number of people driving whilst intoxicated. It is good to know that the educational message is getting through to some people.
“Despite this, 173 drivers still took a risk with their lives and the lives of other road users during this campaign. This is disappointing and those drivers who took that risk over Christmas will now be dealt with through the criminal justice system and they will have to face the consequences of their poor decisions.
“I would urge anyone who has had an alcoholic drink or taken drugs and considers getting behind the wheel of their vehicle to think hard about the potentially fatal outcomes.”
Last year’s Christmas campaign saw 185 drivers arrested in connection with alcohol or drug driving.
Ron Hogg, Durham’s Police Crime and Victims’ Commissioner has congratulated the campaign, whilst expressing his disappointment at the number of irresponsible drivers.
He said: “While the majority of drivers are responsible road users, this campaign has shown there are still some individuals who flout the law and unnecessarily put lives at risk. There is simply no acceptable reason for driving under the influence of drink or drugs.”