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Drivers to get text warnings

PUBLISHED: 10:16 01 December 2008 | UPDATED: 12:25 03 July 2010

CHRISTMAS revellers will be sent text messages warning “don't drink and drive because we're waiting for you” as Norfolk police adopt a new hi-tech approach to stamping out the festive menace.

CHRISTMAS revellers will be sent text messages warning “don't drink and drive because we're waiting for you” as Norfolk police adopt a new hi-tech approach to stamping out the festive menace.

The force is one of the first in the country to exploit Bluetooth technology now installed on most mobile telephones, enabling officers outside pubs and clubs to identify every compatible phone inside a venue before forwarding the blanket message to everyone inside.

The scatter-gun messages will wish people a happy Christmas but warn that if they get behind the wheel at the end of the night, they will be breathalysed and face the risk of jail and losing their licence.

The move comes after forces across the country were told to stop more motorists than ever before and is part of the county's bid to stop the suffering caused by drink drivers maiming and killing victims over the festive period. Norfolk Police are launching their anti-drink and drug campaigns today.

Chief Insp Steve Grimmer, who has worked on the frontline dealing with the carnage caused by drink drivers, said: “There is no safe limit. People can think they're ok when they're really not.

“If only they were aware of the misery it brings not only to the victims and the knock on effect to their families but to the families of those of people who drink drive.”

It adds to the police's traditional arsenal of anti-booze weapons. From today until midnight on January 1 officers will be stopping motorists across Norfolk urging members of the public to report anyone they suspect of drink-driving on a dedicated free-phone hotline.

Over the festive period last year, 114 drivers were arrested on suspicion of either failing a breath test of refusing to take one in Norfolk.

Anyone convicted of drink driving gets a criminal record, a sentence of up to 10 years in prison and an increase in insurance premiums, along with the possibility of a driving ban, a heavy fine, the possible loss of their job and, as a result, their home.

Referring to the new messages, PC Michael Edney, casualty reduction officer, said: “It is another way of getting the message across and to enforce a reminder. Someone might just be about to have a drink but then this message comes through and they think again.

“This is not about spoiling people's fun but ensuring everyone has a good Christmas. The best way to ensure a safe journey home is to arrange a designated driver or pre-book a taxi.”

PC Edney said: “Make no mistake, the penalties for flouting this is severe. We are using every resource available and if you drink and drive, you will be caught.”

t Norfolk Constabulary's drink-drive free-phone hotline number is 0800 835835.


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