Safety campaigners are urging the government to get tougher on drink drivers despite a fall in the number caught over the Christmas period.
Figures out today show that 9,658 drivers tested positive after more breath checks were carried out than ever before.
But the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) said the figures were still ‘shocking.’
RoSPA’s Duncan Vernon said: ‘RoSPA would like to see the police given powers to breath test people anywhere and at any time.
‘Drivers who flout the law have to be made to realise that they are likely to be caught and punished.
‘Although there was a slight fall in the percentage of people who tested positive, the reduction is still not good enough when 560 people were killed in drink-drive related accidents in 2005.’
Sarah Fatica, of road safety charity Brake, said the figures showed the government’s drink and drug-driving message was not getting through.
She added: ‘It is high time the government invested in a year-round TV campaign.
‘We urge the government to give police new powers to stop drivers randomly at key times and locations to carry out breath and drug tests. At present they can only do it if they have reason to suspect drink or drugged driving.’
But the Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police, Meredydd Hughes, said the Christmas drink-drive campaign had been a success.
‘We believe this has been the most productive drink-drive campaign to date with the number of breath tests carried out nationally having increased by nearly 10 per cent.
‘The campaign has also continued to put pressure on those whose driving is impaired by the use of drugs.’