It is early in the morning and police officers are out testing County Durham drivers' alcohol levels -kicking off Durham Constabulary’s summer drink-driving campaign.

Many people are unaware alcohol can still be in your system from the night before – and the evening before the campaign launch, many motorists have been socialising with friends whilst watching England face Denmark at the Euros.

One driver is “mortified” when the breathalyser registers a reading of 16 – around halfway to the blood alcohol limit of 35.

They tell police that they stopped drinking around 9pm the night before, and did not realise it could still be impacting their driving abilities.

(Image: The Northern Echo)

With about 20 officers from the force working to pull over and test drivers on the dual carriageway out of Durham City, hundreds of motorists were tested this morning (Friday, June 21).

Operation Spotlight is targeting the “fatal four” road offences – raising awareness to prevent road deaths from drink and drug driving, mobile phones usage, speeding and failing to use seatbelts.

The aim is twofold; to find people who are violating drunk driving alcohol limits, and to increase the police’s visibility on the roads.

Pete Tate, the Strategic Casualty Reduction Co-ordinator at Durham Police highlights that the campaign is to do “more than just persecuting perpetrators.”

“We’ve pulled over lots of people today, and each of those will go and tell ten or twelve more, that the cops are out and doing checks.

Pete Tate and Michael Todd, of Durham Police.Pete Tate and Michael Todd, of Durham Police. (Image: The Northern Echo)

“All these people driving past will see too – it’s encouraging them to take more care on the roads.

“I’d ask people, after drinking on an evening – to wait until late the next afternoon to get behind the wheel again.”

The launch of the campaign follows multiple tragedies across County Durham, that have seen motorists, passengers and pedestrians die on the roads.

Michael Todd, an inspector for Durham’s Roads and Armed Policing unit, said he has been left “incredibly proud” of how officers have acted whilst responding to drink driving related tragedies.

“Many of those that are here today will have been at serious crashes in the last few weeks, that’ll have been turning points in people’s careers.

“They’re now having to deal with the aftermath of those incidents – what they saw, and what they had to do.”

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The drive is being supported by Durham County Council’s road safety team. Its manager Angela Redmond is working to bring together resources from the council,police, and fire service to make the roads safer for all.

She said: “Once an incident has happened it is too late – this campaign will help us get the message out about the Fatal Four, and encourage people to act responsibly.”

The checks will continue across County Durham and Darlington throughout the next six weeks.