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PostPosted: Thu Dec 06, 2007 02:26 
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http://news.scotsman.com/scotland.cfm?id=1902202007

All drivers stopped by police face breath test

ALASTAIR DALTON

ALL drivers in Scotland are to be breathalysed if they are stopped by police for any motoring offence, The Scotsman has learned.

The change, which is expected to be announced tomorrow, will mean motorists will now be breath-tested if they are caught committing offences such as speeding, running red lights or holding mobile phones.

Many forces had previously routinely breath-tested drivers only if they had been involved in a crash or officers suspected they had been drinking.

The new policy comes into force with the start of this year's Scottish Christmas drink-drive campaign tomorrow.

It is the latest attempt by police to curb the increasing number of drivers being caught over the limit.

Last year's festive campaign saw a 12 per cent rise, with over 100 more motorists caught than in 2005. A summer blitz in July recorded a 3 per cent rise on last year.

New figures have also shown drink-drivers have accounted for an increasing proportion of motorists involved in injury crashes in Scotland over the past eight years.

The total of such drivers who were over the limit or refused to be tested has risen almost every year, from 3 per cent in 1998 to 4 per cent last year.

Police chiefs hope breathalysing drivers for all offences will pose a significantly increased deterrent to drinkers getting behind the wheel.

They think many drivers continue to drink because they don't believe they will be caught.

One official said: "Some people believe the chances of detection are very slim."

The move follows a trial of the policy during the summer drink-drive campaign, when motorists stopped for other offences, such as defective lights and number plates, were also breathalysed.

A survey published by motor insurers esure.com today found over three in four of the 1,000 motorists questioned would be drinking at least once or twice a week during December.

More than half of these said they were likely to consume enough alcohol on each occasion to take them above the drink- drive limit.

Commenting on the rise in drink-drivers involved in crashes causing injury, John Vine, the Tayside chief constable and chair of road policing for the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland (ACPOS), said : "It is disheartening to see an increase, albeit a slight increase, in the number of drivers who are positive or who have refused to take a breath test.

"They are to be reminded that they face the full brunt of the law for failing to comply with a police officer's request."

However, some motoring groups said the move was pointless. Paul Smith, founder of the anti-safety camera campaign Safe Speed said: "I applaud roads- policing initiatives, but breathalysing clearly sober drivers is a waste of police time.

I'd rather they spent those few precious minutes looking for real road dangers and especially drunk drivers.

"We should trust the judgment of front-line police officers to decide if a breath test is warranted. Their good judgment is crucial to effective roads policing, and ultimately our safety."

The Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland will also use tomorrow's launch to re- affirm its backing for the drink-drive limit to be cut from 80mg/100ml to 50mg. A UK-wide consultation is expected early next year, but the Scottish Government has said it may go it alone if Westminster is opposed.

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