ALMOST 150 people were arrested over the festive period in Avon and Somerset for drink and drug driving.

The force’s Operation Tonic road safety campaign, which ran throughout December, saw officers make a total of 146 arrests, of which 78 people have been charged, and a further 40 have been released under investigation.

The highest breathalyser reading during that time was almost four times the legal limit.

This year’s figures at present are a decline on last year’s statistics, where 184 people were arrested and 117 were charged.

By targeting drink and drug driving, the force said it aims to help reduce deaths, serious injuries and crime on the roads of the Avon and Somerset force area, with high visibility and covert patrols being used.

Supt Andy Williams, head of road safety said: “Drink and drug driving is one of the ‘fatal four' offences which cause the majority of deaths on our roads.

“The people arrested during in the run up to Christmas chose to drive whilst intoxicated and were acting in an incredibly selfish and reckless manner.

“Those driving under the influence not only risk arrest but more crucially, their own lives and the lives of others.

“Unlike previous years there has been no strong common link or emerging ‘trend’ in drivers arrested.

“The vast majority of those arrested were over 30 years old and this could be a product of our work with young people in ensuring next generation stay safe on the road.

“We always promote education over prosecution where possible and use a combination of these to tackle drink driving.”

Avon and Somerset Police received over 340 tip offs from members of the public who were asked to call or text with information about intoxicated drivers. Of these, the force was able to respond to around three quarters of calls made, with all other information received being fed into future investigations and intelligence for ongoing road safety management.

Police and crime commissioner Sue Mountstevens said: “The police are committed to keeping the roads of Avon and Somerset safe for all that use them.

“Driving under the influence of drink or drugs is not only a crime, it is socially and morally unacceptable, and I believe the majority of law-abiding people support the police in doing all we can to bring offenders to justice.”

Operation Tonic has now concluded, but people are still encouraged to report to the police if they know someone is driving while under the influence of drugs or drink.