“SOMEDAY you will realise the damage that you have caused but by then it’s too late. Everybody has a choice” – that is the message being driven by police across north Wales’ police force as they launch their annual ‘Christmas Anti Drink and Drug Drive Campaign’.

Led by North Wales Police, the month-long operation against driving under the influence begins on Saturday, December 1 in which officers across the country will be using intelligence-led tactics and local knowledge of hotspots to detect people who are driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol over the festive period.

The campaign features officers from the North Wales Police Roads Policing Unit giving their own accounts of what it is like to deal with the aftermath of a collision involving a drink or drug driver.

Superintendent Jane Banham, from North Wales Police’s Roads Policing Unit, said: “As the festive season gets underway we are reminding drivers of the dangers and consequences of getting behind the wheel after drinking or taking drugs.

“Our campaign will be heavily focussed on asking people to make the right choice. Many of our officers have witnessed the devastating consequences of drink and drug driving, so by using the hashtag #ChooseWisely their messages will be used on social media throughout the campaign period.

“Having to tell someone their loved one has been killed because a driver made the selfish decision to get behind the wheel when under the influence is the worst part of their job. There are no words to describe the devastation caused by drink and drug driving and that is why we are so passionate about what we do.

Supt Banham continued: “Officers from the Roads Policing Unit, Safer Neighbourhood teams and the special constabulary will be working 24 hours a day, seven days a week and anyone who is considering driving whilst under the influence of drink or drugs should know that we will be out and about waiting for them – please don’t think the rural nature of the region affords you protection because it doesn’t.

“Our message is simple; if you are out and know you will be drinking, make sure you have plans for getting home safely without driving. If you do have to drive, our advice is to avoid alcohol completely. The only safe limit is none.”

So far this year North Wales Police has already made over 800 drink drive and 600 drug drive arrests.

Ken Skates AM, the Welsh Government’s transport secretary, said: “Getting behind the wheel under the influence of drink or drugs can cause devastating consequences for individuals, families and friends and too many lives have already been lost and shattered due to the actions of others. Unfortunately, and very sadly, there are still a number of drivers who continue to put themselves and those around them at great danger by taking to the road in an unfit condition.

“My message couldn’t be clearer – the best approach to ensure the safety of everyone is to plan ahead and leave the car at home if you are out having a drink. The risk is simply not worth it.

“The police, fire and rescue and ambulance service do a fantastic job and have to deal with the preventable consequences of drink and drug driving and I would like to convey my sincere gratitude and thanks for their tireless work.

“The campaign is all about ensuring everyone who uses our roads does so in a safe and responsible way, which is exactly how it should be.”

Teresa Ciano, chair of Road Safety Wales, said: “Alcohol and drugs impair judgement, making drivers and riders over-confident and more likely to take risks. Reactions are slower, stopping distances increase, judgement of speed and distance is compromised and the field of vision reduces. The ability to drive or ride safely is seriously affected and the likelihood of a collision increases dramatically. 

“Road Safety Wales fully supports the efforts of the Police in cracking down on irresponsible individuals who put themselves and innocent road users at great risk.”

Anybody who has concerns about anybody they believe to be driving under the influence should contact police on 101 or 999 if they are posing an imminent danger. Alternatively, contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.