HORRIFIED police and fire chiefs say 39 drivers were arrested for drink driving across North Yorkshire even while pubs and restaurants were shut in the the first month of lockdown.

A further 51 were arrested for drug driving. Superintendent Emma Aldred said she was truly shocked. "It is alarming that we are in such a restricted time because of the lockdown and yet we are seeing large numbers still who are over the limit, and in some cases more than double the limit.

"Some are the morning after when people have drunk too much the night before, others are meeting people outdoors and drinking and thinking they are alright to drive. There may be some frustration because there is nothing to do, and people are drinking more. They have to remember the impact this can have, drink driving really does ruin lives, they could be involved in a fatality or a crash where people are seriously injured, it is traumatic and devastating.

"It genuinely is not worth running the risk of causing harm. Drinking at home can mean you easily lose track and it is cheaper. Either way, the consequences are the same. You’re just as likely to be arrested, charged and end up with a driving ban and criminal record.

"And you’re just as likely to kill someone if you crash. There are no excuses, no second chances. It’s that simple," she added.

Emergency services have had to deal with a number of drink driver fatal and serious-injury collisions in the past year, in December there were 29 collisions where a driver was arrested for drink or drug driving.

North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Group Manager Dave Winspear said: "Every year, we see the consequences of drink driving. We were very alarmed at the high number of arrests during the lockdown.The impact it has is not only on those involved but also on the emergency services called out. Please don’t be tempted to have a few drinks at home and get behind the wheel, and you can still be over the limit the following morning."

He called on people to have personal and social responsibility. "We see the tragic effects, people seriously injured or killed and quite often it’s an innocent person who is the victim. The person under the influence doesn’t always end up being the one injured. We would ask people to take personal responsibility and if you see someone drinking too much take action, we want to change behaviour because it's a real tragedy," he added.