Fewer breath tests being carried out by Dorset Police

Fewer breath tests being carried out by Dorset Police

Published by Maria Greenwood at 7:43am 5th November 2019. (Updated at 12:01pm 5th November 2019)

Police officers carry out 3,900 fewer alcohol breath tests each year on drivers in Dorset than a decade ago.

Road safety charity Brake says the decline is symptomatic of “savage cuts” to police numbers, and is calling for better funding and a zero tolerance drink-drive limit.

Home Office statistics show:

  • 5,712 breath tests were conducted by Dorset Police in 2018 - around 3,900 fewer than in 2009, the first year with comparable data.
  • Of those last year, drivers failed or refused to do 906 - 16% of all tests.

Meanwhile, Department for Transport figures show that drink-driving contributed to 45 accidents attended by officers in the area last year.

drink drive promo

Inspector Joe Pardey, from the Alliance Roads Policing department, said:

"Our efforts to tackle drink driving in Dorset has changed significantly in the last 10 years. 

"We now prioritise our resources by carrying out more intelligence-led enforcement activity to tackle drink drivers.

"We do also conduct random checks.

drink drive

"This allows us to proactively target offenders who present the greatest risk on our roads under our Operation Dragoon initiative.

"We also carry out high-visibility patrols and road checks to deter offenders.

"Drink 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."

The drop in the number of tests was smaller than that across England and Wales, where 321,000 were done last year – less than half that in 2009.

Police forces started to use new recording equipment in April 2018, before which the number of passed breath tests tended to be under-reported.

'Slashed budgets'

Brake says slashed budgets have left police forces less able to do checks on potentially dangerous drink-drivers.

A spokesman for the charity said:

“Couple that with the fact that the number of positive breath tests increased, and it shows that drink-driving remains a serious issue on our roads.

“Brake is calling for the Government to implement a zero tolerance drink-drive limit, making clear to drivers that not a drop of alcohol is safe, and increase investment in national roads policing to provide the police with the resources they need to tackle the menace of drink-driving.”

Road closed Police

Nicholas Lyes, head of roads policy at the RAC, said:

“The advice to drivers is simple – if you are going out and plan to consume any alcohol whatsoever, leave your vehicle at home and make alternative travel arrangements.”

'Breath Tests - The Facts'

  • Police can make someone take a breath test if they suspect they have been driving, or trying to drive, with alcohol in their body.
  • They can also order one if the driver has committed a traffic offence while their vehicle is moving, or if they have been involved in an accident.
  • It is a crime to refuse a breath test, unless the driver has a reasonable excuse, such as a medical condition.
Drink Drive Tests

A Home Office spokesman said a fall in the number of tests could be down to various factors, including increased awareness of the law, and police prosecuting drivers under more serious offences, or choosing other enforcement methods such as education courses.

If you are concerned about someone drinking and driving and it is going to happen immediately, call 999.

Otherwise please 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.