THE dangers of drink driving were demonstrated yesterday to remind people to be careful over the festive season.

The Motor Risk Group and Darlington Borough Council held an Anti-Drink Drive Rally in the town's Market Place to promote safe driving and the effects of drinking on response times.

The fire brigade demonstrated someone being cut out of a vehicle and the police brought along their seat- belt sled "The Slide", which simulates a crash at 8mph, showing the importance of wearing a seat-belt.

Bill Dixon, council cabinet member for community and public protection, said: "The drink-driving message is reinforced every Christmas, but it is especially important this year because of the extended drinking hours.

"The message is - if you are planning to have one drink, do not drive, and be careful the morning after."

Supporting the cause yesterday were members of the cast of Beauty and the Beast, at Darlington Civic Theatre.

Anthony Hutton, 23, Big Brother winner who plays the jester in the pantomime, said: "Drink-driving is a massive problem. Being in the media has to be a massive gain to get the message out."

Volunteers also raced remote control vehicles around a mini circuit before and after they had one unit of alcohol, to show how drink affects judgement.

Grumbleweed Graham Walker, another star of the pantomime, shared his own experiences.

He said: "A few years ago, I used to enjoy a drink, and one night I got a bit brave and drove home.

"The next morning, I realised what a risk I was to other people. We have to make people realise what a risk you are to everyone else when you drink-drive."