THIS has been a year that has seen so much change – don’t let Christmas 2020 be the one that changes a family for ever.

That is the message from the four Welsh police forces who are once again, carrying out the Christmas Anti Drink and Drug Drive campaign throughout December to target those who risk the lives of others by getting behind the wheel whilst under the influence.

Chief Inspector Jon Aspinall of North Wales Police’s Roads Policing Unit said: “This year has been particularly difficult and we understand people may want to enjoy themselves but we are reminding them that getting behind the wheel whilst under the influence can have dire consequences.

“We’re not just talking about losing a licence, which often results in the loss of employment, driving under the influence leads to far too many serious and fatal collisions.

“Don’t be the person responsible for destroying a family this Christmas.”

Led by Dyfed-Powys Police the month-long operation against driving under the influence began on Tuesday, December 1, with officers across the country using intelligence-led tactics and local knowledge of hotspots to detect people who are driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs over the festive period.

“As the festive season gets underway we are reminding drivers of the dangers and consequences of getting behind the wheel after drinking or taking drugs,” said Chief Inspector Aspinall.

“Of course, we target drink and drug drivers throughout the year. So far this year North Wales Police have made almost 1,300 drug drive arrests and almost 800 drink drive arrests – and this also includes during lockdown.

“Officers from the Roads Policing Unit, local policing teams and the Special Constabulary will be working 24 hours a day, seven days a week and anyone who is considering driving whilst under the influence of drink or drugs should know that we will be out and about waiting for them.

“This year we know there won’t be big office parties, but that doesn’t mean people won’t be looking for a release after a difficult period.

"With this in mind, we’re asking people to plan ahead, to think about what they may do and to be sure to arrange a taxi home.

“We’re also reminding people that if they are drinking alcohol at home that they should know their limits and be mindful that they could still be under the influence the morning after.”

Concerns are also being raised regarding drug driving following an increase in the number of arrests made this year.

Between January 1 and November 30 North Wales Police has made 1,223 drug drive arrests, compared to 957 during the same period in 2019.

C.I Aspinall added: “Drugs can affect your mind and body in a variety of ways that mean you aren't able to drive safely.

"Not only that, the effects can last for hours or even days.

"Driving while under the influence of drugs can lead to slower reaction times, poor concentration, confusion, fatigue, being over confident which means you take unnecessary risks and erratic behaviour.

“Your ability to drive is significantly impaired and the chances of you being involved in a collision will drastically increase.

“We now have more officers trained to undertake the roadside drugs test including response and local neighbourhood policing officers.

"Please don’t think the rural nature of the region affords you protection because it doesn’t.

“Our patrols will continue 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Anybody who gets behind the wheel whilst under the influence should expect to be arrested and put before the courts.”

Anybody who has concerns about anybody they believe to be driving whilst under the influence can contact North Wales Police on 101 or via the live web chat.

Always phone 999 if they are posing an imminent danger. Alternatively, contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.