POLICE have reported an increase in drink driving detections in Fermanagh so far over the Christmas period.
While figures across the North are down, the county recorded an increase in the period running from November 27 until December 17.
In the same period last year, there were four detections by police, but this year that has risen to six.
Across the North, there were 132 detections during the period this year, 24 less than last year.
This figure includes motorists who were unfit to drive, or who were unable or refused to give a sample. Over the period 108 males and 24 females have been caught by police.
The figure hasn’t gone down well with UUP Councillor Rosemary Barton who described it as ‘disappointing’.
“While the number of drink driving detections have decreased by approximately 14% in Northern Ireland it is disappointing to learn that the number of detections in the same period in Fermanagh have increased, especially as the PSNI have run a high profile campaign via television, radio and social media about the dangers of drinking and driving.
She added: “I hope the reduction in actual visible policing in the county has had no influence on these figures.”
“Those offending need to realise that while they are putting themselves at risk, they are also endangering the lives of their passengers and other innocent road users. I would appeal to anyone drinking not to drive, either have a driver who has consumed no alcohol or find an alternative mode of transport for getting home such as a taxi.”
Sinn Fein Councillor Sheamus Greene said that for the most part he believes people to be careful.
“In my lifetime, people’s opinoin would have completely changed. Very few people that I would know – nobody that I would know – is taking a chance. Maybe when I was young people would have taken a chance,” he said.
“I would advise everyone if they’re driving not to take a drink at all. I you take one you’re not sure if it’ll take you.”
Cllr Greene said that as well as being careful ‘on the night’, Fermanagh drivers need to take care the day following drinking.
“That’s the problem. People maybe naturally think they’re all right the next day and sometimes they’re not. They’re being careful on the night out but they’re waking up and thinking it’s a new day.”
Chief Inspector Joe McMinn said that police are determined to catch drink drivers.
“Every year across Northern Ireland, drinking and driving kills, maims and wrecks families. Police will not tolerate people who insist on driving after having taken drugs or drink. We are again appealing for all motorists to consider the consequences of their actions.
Inspector McMinn urged the public here to plan for a night out – be that getting a lift home with a non-drinking friend or family member, or a licensed taxi driver.
“Drink and drive and at best, like the 132 people detected so far, you are likely to be caught, arrested and brought before the courts.
“You will almost certainly lose your licence for one or more years, will be fined, and will have great difficulty in obtaining car insurance in the future. You also risk losing your job or going to jail.”
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