Cumbria Police is imploring residents to plan ahead so they don't find themselves drink driving this Christmas and New Year.

In light of upcoming festive celebrations, law enforcement officials are intensifying their efforts to tackle unfit motorists impaired by alcohol or drugs.

This is part of the Constabulary Christmas and New Year road safety campaign.

Inspector Jack Stabler emphasised the dire repercussions of such actions.

He said: “Whilst the vast majority of drivers on our roads are careful and conscientious, the fact is that we know our officers are going to find scores of drivers over the coming weeks who are unfit through drink or drugs.

“In many ways, those we catch are the lucky ones as there is a significant likelihood that we have caught them before they have caused devastation and potentially tragedy to themselves or other road users.

“There is no excuse for being intoxicated behind the wheel and anyone who is caught can expect a significant driving ban as a minimum.”

Those stopped by police and found to be over the limit for drink or drugs could lose their license, job, and be fined thousands of pounds as well as potentially be sent to prison.

If a person causes the death of another by careless or dangerous driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs could be sent to prison, with a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

In last year’s festive crackdown between December 1 and January 1, officers carried out 654 breath tests, leading to 154 arrests.

Among these were 63 arrests for Section 5 OPL (alcohol), 84 for Section 5A (drug driving), and seven for Section 4 (impaired through drink/drugs).

This same period also witnessed 23 KSI (Killed or Serious Injury) collisions, of which five were sadly fatal.

Reiterating their year-round commitment to safeguarding road users, Inspector Stabler advised motorists to arrange for a sober ride back home from festive activities.

He said: "Our officers are targeting drink and drug drivers every day of the year. However, we know that the temptation is greatest at this time of year.

“That is why it is so important for people to make plans for getting home in advance of going out.

“Every year ahead of the Christmas and New Year periods there are lives lost needlessly as a result of drivers being unfit through drink or drugs.

“Our officers will be doing their part to prevent a tragedy in Cumbria this Christmas. Do your part by not drinking and driving.”

Cumbria’s Deputy Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner, Mike Johnson, condemned the act of driving under the influence as 'selfish'.

He said: “Driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs is an incredibly selfish act.

“By driving under the influence, not only does the driver place their own life at risk but they endanger the lives of innocent drivers, passengers and pedestrians as well.

“We all want to enjoy the Christmas period and that often involves a few drinks with friends and family. However, it’s important that we all have a safe and sober way home.

“I am urging everyone to drive responsibly and sober and if you know of someone that is driving under the influence, please report it to the Police on 999.”