Motorists should be under no illusion if they get behind the wheel while under the influence they not only risk their licence, a fine or prison sentence, but they are risking lives too.

That is the message being driven by North Wales Police as the organisation launched its Christmas Anti Drink and Drug Drive Campaign.

The national month-long anti drink and drug drive operation began on Friday (December 1) and police forces 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.

North Wales Police will be using social media as well as a digital advertising campaign to drive home the message of the consequences surrounding drink or drug driving.

And led by the Force’s Roads Crime Unit, officers from across all teams – including local policing, armed officers as well as the Special Constabulary will be out – day and night targeting those who are endangering not only their own life, but the lives of innocent road users.

Chief Inspector Caroline Mullen-Hirst of North Wales Police’ Roads Crime Unit said: "Having to knock on a door and tell someone their loved one has been killed because a driver made the selfish decision to get behind the wheel whilst under the influence is the worst part of our 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. 

"As the festive season gets underway not only are we reminding drivers of the dangers but we’re also highlighting the consequences of getting behind the wheel whilst under the influence.

“Anyone caught faces a minimum 12-18 month disqualification and the public are being urged to take a moment and think seriously about how that would affect your life; driving to work or college, childcare arrangements or school runs, socialising and visiting family. 

"The impact of losing your licence is enormous. You could lose your job and your home. Worst still, you could injure or kill yourself or someone else. Drink or drug driving isn’t worth the risk.

“Our teams 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.

“Officers are on heightened alert all year round but especially at this time of year – they will spot you, they will catch you and you will face the consequences. 

"Drivers need to be aware that regardless of the time of day they are caught, whether they are going to work or taking children to school, they will face the same penalties as someone who has chosen to drink heavily in a pub and driven at night."

So far this year (January to November) North Wales Police has made 868 drink drive arrests and 786 drug drive arrests. 

North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner, Andy Dunbobbin said: “Accidents and deaths on the highway are tragic at any time of the year, but for a family to learn that a loved one has been injured or died at such a special point in the calendar is especially difficult to bear – even more so when it is due to the actions of someone under the influence.

“No friends or family should have to open the door, or pick up the phone, to news like this. That is why road safety is a key part of my plan to make our region safer for residents and visitors alike."

If you suspect someone is driving whilst under the influence, report it immediately to North Wales Police on 101 (or 999 if they are posing imminent danger) or it can be done via the live chat system on the force website, or contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.