Drivers in County Durham and Darlington are being warned they are over two-and-a-half times more likely to be breath tested this December than any other month.

A Freedom of Information request by personal breathalyser firm AlcoSense shows that in December last year, Durham Police stopped 760 motorists suspected of drink driving.

That compares with 289 breath tests in an average month.

The number of motorists in the Durham Constabulary force area tested last December found to be over the limit was 63, a failure rate of eight per cent.

Hunter Abbott, of AlcoSense Laboratories, said: "Police always step up the number of roadside breath tests in December, because of Christmas parties and other festive celebrations.

“If you drink four pints of medium-strong beer or four large glasses of wine, it can take as long as 14 hours for the alcohol to clear your system.

“Even with just 10mg per 100mL of alcohol in your blood (one eighth of the legal limit in England and Wales) you are 37 per cent more likely to be involved in a fatal accident than when completely sober.

“The rules are simple.  If you’ve been drinking in the evening, don’t drive.  If you’re driving the next day, test yourself to make sure you’re clear of alcohol from the night before. 

"One in five drink drive convictions are in the morning.” 

Durham police carried out 3,942 roadside breath tests throughout 2022, of which 716 were either positive or refused.  That means nearly one in five motorists failed the test. 

Nationally, there were 260 deaths on Britain’s roads where a motorist was over the drink drive limit – an alarming increase of 18 per cent over the previous year and the highest since 2009. 

Drunk drivers accounted for 17 per cent of all road deaths.

The Department for Transport estimate that the total number of people injured in drink drive accidents was 6,740 - up four per cent.