A WEEK into the annual Christmas police crackdown on drink drivers RUTH MANSFIELD looks into the work being done to educate offenders.

WHILE Christmas is meant to be all about festive fun, the season can also bring its dangers too with a rise in drink driving being one of them.

Every Christmas, Gwent police look to help tackle this problem by joining up with the three other police forces in Wales for the All Wales anti drug/drink drive campaign.

The campaign sees police officers from Gwent, South Wales, North Wales and Dyfed Powys, conduct road checks at various locations across the country.

While police target drink drivers all year round, the campaign sees them make a focused effort on those who choose to get behind the wheel after having a drink or taking drugs.

In its first week alone, Gwent police have tested 480 people at the roadside with three people being arrested for either failing the test or being unfit to take it.

Last year, the campaign saw Gwent police officers test 1,935 drivers during a four-week period with 39 people testing positive, refusing or failing to provide a sample.

At the start of the launch chief inspector of Gwent Police’s roads policing unit, Paul Evans, said:

“This time of year people may be going out more and enjoying themselves, however, please make plans ahead of time, nominate someone as designated driver or call a cab, either way, leave the car at home.

“This also applies to the morning after; just because you feel fine you may still not be fit to drive. The effects of alcohol often continue the following day.”

But while campaigns like this do take place, people are still committing the offence, so what happens to those who are caught.

While prison sentences face those who are involved in serious incidents where injury or death is caused, for others they will be faced with penalties such as a fine and driving ban.

But on top of this, they may also be offered an educational course to help raise awareness of the dangers of the offence they have committed.

TTC 2000, which is part of the TTC Group, is the UK’s largest provider of the Department for Transport’s drink drive rehabilitation scheme and has recently marked 20 years of educating drink drive offenders.

The courses, which are provided all over the UK, are designed to be educational covering alcohol education, impact on health, responsible driving, the law, sentencing and victims.

Independent research has shown that attendance on a course significantly reduces reconviction rates and participants also benefit from reduced insurance premiums and a reduction of up to 25 per cent in their driving disqualification period.

TTC Group managing director Jenny Wynn said that over the past two decades they have educated 200,000 drink drivers who were less likely to re-offend as a result of attending the course.

She said: “Over the years the course has been a huge success and we are proud to be the largest provider of drink drive courses in the UK and we always run the courses on a not for profit ethos. The culture of drink driving has altered over the years and now everyone knows it is not just anti-social but downright dangerous. But there is still much work to do in convincing new and older drivers that they must not drink and drive.

“So many people who have gone on the course over the years, have said how good the information on the course was and how it had helped ensure they never repeated the offence.”

According to the group, around 50,000 people are convicted of drink driving each year in the UK with around 18 per cent of drivers being arrested the morning after – many because they are unaware about the length of time alcohol stays in the system.

A maths calculation the group provides to help a person work out how much they have drunk is to times the volume of alcohol (ml) by the strength (per cent) and then divide that by 1,000. This leaves you with the number of units of alcohol.

A medium 175ml glass of wine at 12 per cent strength, for example, is just over two units.

It takes up to one hour for the alcohol to start to be fully absorbed into the body and another hour per unit for it to leave. So six pints of ordinary strength beer will take approximately 13 hours to dissipate – often leaving the drinker over the driving limit the next day. Anyone who has any information about a person getting behind the wheel after drinking is urged to contact police on 101.