There has been a sharp rise in drink and drug driving in Dorset recently. As what to do about the problem there have been varied suggestions. 

The local police and crime commissioner David Sidwick is enforcing a tougher approach. He said: “I want to see more enforcement and tougher sentencing for offenders.” He went on to say that society has in the past been tooaccepting of this issue and added: “Drink and drug driving is not acceptable and will not be tolerated in Dorset.” However, he did say that cracking down hard, even though he believed it would work, might not be enough, there needs to be an attitudinal change in society as well.

Others also want a change of attitude but went a lot further. They are calling for a more long-term approach. AlasdairKeddie, co-chair of the Bournemouth and Poole Green party, said he was shocked to hear such draconian measures from Mr Sidwick. He said: “Any move or strategy to tackle this problem cannot rely on enforcement and punitive action alone.”He called for a ’harm reduction and prevention strategy.’ Without it he said: “The problem isn’t going to go away it’s only going to get moved around.”

Sharon Coyne, artistic director of ‘Vita Nova’, a Bournemouth charity helping people in recovery from alcohol and drug misuse, acknowledged that drink/ drug driving was a very dangerous thing but she also took a more thought-outapproach. She said: “I think there should be a lot more awareness, (and)“There needs to be education, there needs to be very veryclear guidelines.” She would like to see more investment into the consequences of drink/drug driving as a preventative measure.

Sharon agreed with Mr Keddie but added: “We live in a society where drink is everywhere. It’s so accessible people don’t think it is a problem.”

Other solutions have also been put forward. 

Alasdair Keddie believes that without harm reduction the problem isn’t going away – “It will just spiral.” He said: “The local BCP green party is developing policies around crime and policing. A major subheading is the drug,alcohol and opiates crisis in Bournemouth.”

Sharon Coyne said: “I think there should be a lot more pressure (like) the warnings on cigarettes.”

They both challenge David Sidwick’s tough approach claiming the effects of alcohol, are not generally known.

Alasdair Keddie warned “It (more enforcement) doesn’t have long term effect. It’s just a thing to make people feel good in the short term. It does nothing to address the problem.”

Sharon Coyne believes that people, because drink is so popular, don’t think about the consequences of irresponsible drinking.

Drink aware is a national alcohol charity that also wants society to have more education. In a statement they spelled out the facts about alcohol generally.

They said that nearly 8000 people were killed in 2019 alone in the UK. They stated that alcohol slows reactions and impairs judgment as well affecting the brain’s ability to receive messages from the eye. Making it more difficult to process information.

They recommend not drinking at all if driving.

Gerald Gilbert

Total of 112 arrests made as part of Christmas drink and drug driving crackdown

The annual Christmas drink and drug drive campaign saw Dorset Police target those who drive while under the influence.

In total, Dorset Police recorded 112 arrests during the December 2021 initiative – of which 84 were for drink driving, 30 for driving under the influence of drugs, and one for failing to provide a sample for analysis. Some drivers were arrested for multiple offences. 

The Christmas campaign, which ran between Wednesday 1 December 2021 and Saturday 1 January 2022, was an increase on the equivalent period the previous year that saw a total of 88 drink and drug drive arrests.

Of the 84 people arrested for drink driving related offences, 65 were men and 19 were women. The youngest was 18 years old and the oldest was 75, with the average age of those arrested being 38.

For excess drug driving related offences, the driver was asked to complete a roadside swab. If this swab was positive, they were arrested and a blood sample was taken at custody for analysis. These are currently being examined before any potential charges are brought.

Of the 30 people arrested for drug driving related offences, 25 were men and five were women. The youngest was 17 years old and the oldest was 54, with the average age of those charged being 30.

During the campaign, the Force encouraged those out enjoying a drink during the festive period to plan how to get home without driving. The ‘Lift Legend’ campaign was launched, which saw Dorset Police partner with around 50 venues across Dorset to offer free drinks to those who agreed to be the designated driver for their group. 

Motorists were reminded of the potential consequences of driving while under the influence and the continuing effects that alcohol and drugs can have the morning after.

Superintendent Adrian Leisk, of the alliance roads policing team, said: “Those arrested throughout the campaign were not necessarily your ‘usual’ suspects. Too many people who are otherwise law-abiding citizens, fail to consider the untold devastation that drink and drug driving can cause. 

“This year, we have placed a greater emphasis on encouraging those planning a night out to think about how they’re getting home. I would like to thank the venues that took part in our ‘Lift Legend’ campaign for their supporting in helping to keep their customers and wider road users safe. 

“In the past I have been the person knocking on the door to inform relatives that their loved one has been killed as a result of a motorist who thinks it is okay to get behind the wheel while under the influence. This is something that I do not want my team to have to do during the festive period, or any other time of year. 

“As in previous years, I would like to thank those members of the public who called us to report a drink driver. Our enforcement efforts will of course continue all year round and intelligence from the public is invaluable in keeping Dorset’s roads safe.”

David Sidwick, Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “I want to thank all those involved in the Christmas drink and drug drive enforcement campaign and I would like to once again thank all the partners involved in the ‘Lift Legend’ campaign.

“I hope all the drivers that got pulled over and were asked to take a test got the message loud and clear – not only are Dorset Police are out and about, preventing crime and protecting the public but drink and drug driving will not be tolerated in our county.

Regular drink and drug driving enforcement is vital and I hope the statistics from the Christmas campaign serves as a reminder to all drivers about the responsibility they accept when they get behind the steering wheel, and the potential consequences when they don’t take that responsibility seriously.”   

If you suspect someone of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, please dial 999 immediately with the vehicle information and direction of travel. 

For non-urgent matters, or to pass information about someone who regularly drives under the influence of drugs or alcohol, please go to or call 101.  

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