The annual month-long Christmas crackdown on drink and drug driving started today (Friday 1 December).
Sussex Police used the occasion to flag up the prospect of longer prison sentences for anyone causing death by careless driving while over the drink or drug driving limits.
The force said: “A quick drive under the influence of drink or drugs could lead to a life behind bars.
“Under new government proposals, motorists who cause death by careless driving while under the influence of intoxicating substances face a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. The current maximum term is 14 years.
“The plans have been put forward following significant support from people including bereaved families of victims and road safety experts.
“But while the penalty for the offence looks set to increase, the advice from police remains the same – if you’re prepared to drive with drink or drugs in your system, prepare to face the consequences.”
Chief Inspector Warren Franklin, of the Surrey and Sussex Roads Policing Unit, said: “Each and every year, people’s lives are destroyed through drink and drug driving and it won’t be tolerated on our roads in Surrey and Sussex.
“Our officers will be carrying out dedicated patrols to target offenders across the two counties between (Friday) 1 December and (Monday) 1 January and will deal robustly with anyone caught driving under the influence.
“Patrols will include static stop checks at various locations, which will be in addition to responding to reports of drink and drug drivers all year round. Our priority is to educate people of the clear risks associated with drink and drug driving and to keep road users safe.”
During the same campaign last year (Thursday 1 December 2016 to Sunday 1 January 2017), a total of 187 arrests were made in Sussex, of which 143 have since led to convictions.
Driving under the influence of drink or drugs is among the four major causes of serious injury and fatal collisions, along with speeding, not wearing a seatbelt and using a mobile device while driving.”
Chief Inspector Franklin added: “Christmas is a time for friends and family but it’s also a time when a stupid decision could lead to the loss of someone’s life.
“For those caught and convicted, it will have dire consequences – offenders face a minimum 12-month disqualification, fines up to £5,000 and up to six months’ imprisonment. If you kill someone, you could face life behind bars.
“This could happen to anyone. You may think it’s only a short drive home or you’ve not been caught before but you might not be so lucky next time.
“We always encourage motorists to plan ahead. If you’re going for a night out or you’re likely to be hungover in the morning, for example, arrange a taxi or a lift with someone sober. Don’t chance driving yourself. It’s really not worth the risk.
“Please ensure you make the right decision this festive season and don’t ruin Christmas.”
The month-long initiative is supported by the Sussex Safer Roads Partnership and the independent charity Crimestoppers.
Sussex Police added: “People in Sussex can text officers on 65999 with the details of people they suspect of drink or drug driving or visit the Operation Crackdown website.
“If you know someone is driving while over the limit or after taking drugs, call 999.”