ALCOHOL is a contributing factor in a quarter of fatal crashes in Dorset, according to figures revealed by Dorset Police.

Despite various campaigns by police, local authorities and road safety charities, figures for Dorset show one in four road deaths result from crashes where the driver was over the drink-drive limit.

This is much higher than the national average which is one in seven.

And according to Road safety charity Brake many more casualties are caused by drivers who have had a drink but are under the limit, as even this makes you at least three times more likely to die in a crash.

In the last week the Daily Echo has reported on the sentences of two people who had caused crashes after drinking and getting behind the wheel.

In today's paper we reported on Bournemouth woman Samantha Hill, who was caught drink driving twice in two days - and on the second occasion crashed her car into the central reservation on the Wessex Way.

She had to be cut from her car by firefighters and was taken to hospital with minor facial injuries.

And on Thursday, New Forest man Alexander McBride was sentenced to four years and four months for killing his friend's 15-year-old daughter Rebecca Marchant when he crashed the car they were travelling in together. He had consumed three cans of Stella Artois lager and five double brandies with coke.

Over the Christmas drink drive crackdown in December last year Dorset Police and Hampshire Constabulary arrested 320 people for driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs.

Inspector Matt Butler, of the Devon, Cornwall and Dorset Alliance Road Policing Team, said: “It is disappointing that despite the obvious risks, a number of motorists decided to drive after taking drugs or drinking.

“We know that alcohol is a factor in around 25 per cent of deaths on our roads and we will continue to target motorists who put other road users at risk throughout the year and appeal to the public to help us.

"If you think someone is about to drive under the influence of drink or drugs, then call us on 999 immediately so police can intercept or call 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111 with non-urgent information.”

Hampshire Constabulary’s Road Safety Sergeant Rob Heard said: “Too many people are still taking the risk to drive whilst impaired.

"Nearly 7,000 people were breathalysed by police across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight last December, with 150 people being arrested for providing a positive result, failing to provide or refusal.

"They could have caused a crash that killed or left someone injured with a lasting life-changing impact for themselves, family and friends.

“Our campaign asks ‘Where will you end up tonight?’ illustrating that you could end up in a mortuary having died in a road crash caused by drink-driving."

Alcohol not only adversely affects your judgement and reactions but can impact your ability to drive for hours afterwards.

Even if motorists feel fine to drive they could still be over the alcohol limit even the morning after drinking.

If someone is caught drink driving, they will face a minimum 12 month driving ban, a criminal record, up to six months in prison and a fine of up to £5,000.