MORE than 500 people had a Christmas and New Year to remember for all the wrong reasons - after being arrested for getting behind the wheel whilst under the influence of drink or drugs in a crackdown campaign.

The month-long campaign, run by the four Welsh police forces, saw a total of 368 drink drive and 179 drug drive arrests being made across the country. In North Wales alone, more people tested positive for drugs than alcohol, with officers making 83 drink drive and 84 drug drive arrests.

Supt Jane Banham, of the North Wales Police Roads Policing Unit, said: “It is disappointing that people are still prepared to take the risk and get behind the wheel whilst under the influence.

“A notable difference for us in North Wales during this campaign is that there have been more drivers who have tested positive for drugs than alcohol. Whilst this is a concern, it is a reflection of our ability to carry out roadside tests for cannabis and cocaine.

“I don’t think people are quite grasping the full extent of the danger drug-driving poses. Those that do take the risks clearly don't think about the families of those people who have died at the hands of a driver who is high on drugs or drunk. Nobody should ever have to witness that or have to suffer due to the irresponsible unlawful actions of another.”

During last year’s festive period, in 2018, North Wales Police made 936 arrests whereby people had either given a positive, refused or failed to provide a breath test. During the same period officers also made 742 drug drive arrests.

Supt Banham added: “Our officers work 24 hours a day, seven days a week and anyone who is considering driving whilst under the influence should know that we will be out and about waiting for them – please don’t think the rural nature of the region affords you protection because it doesn’t. We will continue to crack down on those who take this unnecessary risk and bring them before the courts.”

Teresa Ciano, Chair of Road Safety Wales, said: “The majority of people are completely aware that using a vehicle after drinking alcohol or taking drugs is dangerous and most thankfully make alternative arrangements to travel.

“We would like to remind people that it makes no difference if you drink cocktails in a sophisticated wine bar with friends or cheap beer at home on your own, if you drive after consuming alcohol the penalties are the same. Please don't risk getting a minimum 12-month driving ban, a criminal record, a large fine or up to 6 months in prison for the sake of a taxi or bus fare home.”