MOTORISTS aged between 18 and 71 were charged with driving offences as part of Dorset Police's Christmas campaign.

In total, 413 breath tests were carried out during the month-long initiative, which ran between December 1 and January 1. The previous year, 554 breath tests were given.

In addition, 78 drug wipe tests were also carried out at the roadside during the campaign, with 42 people testing positive for having cocaine or cannabis in their system. During the 2016 Christmas campaign, 56 drug wipe kits were used with 32 people charged.

Of the 53 people charged with drink driving related offences, 45 were men and eight were women.

Dorset Police recorded 95 arrests during the campaign – 42 of which were for driving under the influence of drugs, 46 for drink driving and seven for failing to provide a sample for analysis. During the same period the previous year, 78 people were arrested.

PC Heidi Moxam of the traffic unit said: “Those charged 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 targeted approach on catching those drink driving on our roads and carried out increased patrols to catch those driving under the influence of drugs. While it is disappointing to see an increase in the number of people caught drug driving, it is positive we’ve been able to take these irresponsible drivers off our roads.

“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 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.”