Drink drivers caught on Dorset’s roads this Christmas will not be named and shamed by the police.

Dorset Police are today launching their annual Christmas drink and drug drive campaign with the message: ‘Don’t risk it if you’ve had even one drink or have taken drugs’.

The campaign, which runs until January 1, sees police making a concerted effort to target drivers who may be over the limit as more people tend to go out and drink alcohol in the party season.

Officers of the Alliance Roads Policing and No Excuse teams will request breath tests from all drivers involved in collisions, irrespective of whether or not they suspect a drink driving offence. Drivers can expect to be tested if stopped for an offence. Drugwipe sample kits will also be used at the roadside.

For several years, the force has supplied the names of those charged with offences to the media so the cases can be followed in court. This ‘naming and shaming’ of individuals is something that has been promoted by Dorset Police in a bid to get the message out that drink driving will not be tolerated.

For the summer campaign, the police go one step further and publicly name all those convicted and share their images on social media accounts.

It has been announced the media will not be supplied with names of those due to appear in court for the forthcoming Christmas campaign.

This is because Dorset Police, which shares some work with Devon & Cornwall Police, is “reviewing some back-office functions”.

This does not mean the practice will necessarily be stopped altogether, a spokesman said. And it doesn't stop media organisations such as the Dorset Echo from going to court to report drink drive cases.

The police spokesman denied the move was linked to a recent meeting of the county’s police and crime panel when concerns were raised about name and shame tactics.

Police and Crime Commissioner Martyn Underhill admitted he had second thoughts about the tactic after a relative wrote to tell him that a family member had threatened suicide after being named in a newspaper as one of the people convicted of a drink drive offence.

Mr Underhill said the police had agreed to investigate if they need to carry out a risk assessment on the likely effect of naming people accused of offences.

Police say the consequences of driving under the influence can be devastating. During 2017, four people were killed and 88 people were injured in collisions involving someone being under the influence.

Inspector Joe Pardey, head of the Alliance Roads Policing team in Dorset, said: “Alcohol and drugs impair many of the functions necessary for safe driving; reaction times and spatial awareness are affected significantly. This may still be the case the morning after, depending on how much alcohol you consumed the night before and when you stopped drinking.

“If police think you are unfit to drive through consumption of alcohol, even if your breath test registers lower than the prescribed limit of 35 micrograms of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath you can still be arrested and may be charged with an offence. In short, you do not have to be drunk to be a drink driver. Don’t risk it.

“It’s not just you that’s at risk. You could kill or seriously injure another person. Drink and drug driving destroys people’s lives and those of their families. Avoiding this happening is as simple as planning ahead, leaving the car at home, and using a taxi, public transport or designated driver to get home.”

Campaign launch at Brewery Square

The campaign will be launched in Dorchester today.

Representatives of all emergency services will be at Brewery Square from 10am to 3pm along with KwikFit to advise on tyre safety. Members of the public will be able to talk to police officers and other emergency staff and take away road safety merchandise including a limited amount of single use breathalysers which provide a useful advisory only guide as to just how easy it is to have too much alcohol in your system to be safe to drive.

Road Casualty Reduction Officer PC Heidi Moxam of the Alliance Roads Policing team, said: “Over the past decade, nationally, we’ve significantly reduced the number of people killed and seriously injured on our roads and we are passionate about ensuring we continue this downward trend. We will continue to do this through enforcement and education, making drivers think twice before they get behind the wheel after drinking or taking drugs.”

PC Moxam added: “Operationally (during the campaign) we will be targeting irresponsible drivers and roadside testing whenever a collision occurs.

"In over 25 years of roads policing service I have seen horrific devastation to families and their loved ones involved in collisions caused by drink and drug drivers. Neither myself nor my colleagues want to have to knock on a door and break the news to a heartbroken family that their partner, child, mother or father will never come home again.”

If you are concerned about someone drinking and driving and it is going to happen immediately, call 999. Otherwise use the contact details in the first section of this page of the Dorset RoadSafe website: www.dorsetroadsafe.org.uk/enforcement-operations/reporting-traffic-concerns or email 101@dorset.pnn.police.uk