‘Words cannot describe the impact’: Stark warning to Manchester Christmas revellers of drink drive consequences

By Dominic Claeys-Jackson

Manchester revellers are being urged to stay safe over the festive period, after the region was revealed as the UK’s drink-driving capital.

Greater Manchester Police are warning party-goers to plan ahead how they are going to get home, so that they do not end up in unauthorised taxis or drink driving.

GMP arrested 13,056 intoxicated drivers between January 2010 and October 2012 – by far the highest amount in the country.

In the first half of December alone GMP arrested 217 motorists, and they have now joined the NHS in promoting festive safety for party-goers.

Inspector John Armfield, GMP’s lead on drink driving, said: “We want everyone to enjoy themselves this Christmas, but we also want people to act responsibly and be safe.  

“If you are having a drink, do not drive.

“Make alternative arrangements to get home, as that way you won’t ruin anyone’s Christmas.

“Words cannot describe the enormous impact on bereaved families who lose loved ones through drink or drug driving, and we will continue to do all we can to bring down the number of casualties.”

Between January 2010 and October 2012, GMP arrested almost double the amount of drink-drivers as second-highest Hampshire (7,006).

In 2012 alone, they caught 3,567 drivers – again, almost double the nearest challenger Thames Valley (1,844).

The figures, compiled in a study by insurance giant LV=, revealed December to be the worst month for drink-driving arrests, which are on the national increase.

In recognition of this, GMP’s Operation Advent has seen a whopping 5,945 breath tests conducted between December 1 and December 16 this year.

Inspector Armfield said that such statistics, especially the 217 December arrests, were distressing for GMP.

“When you consider that these figures are only for the first half of December, they make for grim reading,” said Inspector Armfield.

“Sadly, the 217 people we’ve arrested so far are having a memorable Christmas for the wrong reasons, and I want to remind everybody that drink or drug driving wrecks lives.”

Drink-driving offenders face a criminal record, a heavy fine and the loss of their licence, as well as potential job loss and prison sentences.

The law states that a driver can have a maximum of 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood, 35mg per 100ml of breath or 107mg per 100ml of urine.

This equates to approximately four units for an average man and two to three units for an average woman.

NHS Manchester are also urging all party-goers to follow several rules when consuming alcohol, regardless of whether they intend to drive or not.

Five key NHS tips are not leaving drinks unattended, staying in groups, pacing consumption, eating before drinking and alternating alcoholic drinks with soft drinks.

Melanie Sirotkin, Director of Public Health, said that Greater Manchester’s drinkers should adhere to such advice in order to stay safe.

“Think before you drink,” she said.

 “There can be huge pressure to drink more alcohol at this time of year.

“You don’t have to miss out on the fun, just follow the golden rules for a healthier, happier Christmas.”

Alcohol Concern figures show that UK-wide, 200,000 people work with a hangover every day – causing headaches, nausea and tiredness, weight gain and even alcohol poisoning.

Liver cirrhosis, high blood pressure and a range of cancers are also a risk through regular long-term drinking.

“If you are suffering from a hangover, drink plenty of water and eat a healthy snack,” Ms Sirotkin added.

“Make the most of the party season by drinking only in moderation, so that you can enjoy the holidays hangover-free.”

GMP are also warning Mancunians of the dangers of hitching unauthorised taxis after festive nights out.

Chief Superintendent Shaun Donnellan, of Greater Manchester Police’s Wigan Division, advised revelers to only take a taxi home that they trust.

“If you use a private hire vehicle, check they are genuine by ensuring they have yellow plates on the rear of the vehicle,” he said.

“Make sure you pre-book them – if you just flag one down the vehicle’s insurance may no longer be valid and it may also be a bogus vehicle.

“Also, use a private hire firm that you know, or alternatively take a Hackney Carriage – these can be flagged down anywhere without affecting their insurance.”

One such firm in Manchester is Goodwins Olympic Taxis, whose drivers all hold National Vocational Qualifications in Road Passenger Vehicle Driving.

Manager Raffi Mohammed joined Chief Superintendent Donnellan in urging potential passengers to book ahead to minimise the risk of danger.

“All of our drivers have been trained in how to handle drunk customers,” he said.

“People should make sure that the taxi is booked, and don’t flag one down.

“Obviously when people are drunk they are not in the right state of mind, but at least they can be safe rather than sorry, in safe hands.”

Picture courtesy of Greater Manchester Police, with thanks.

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