It’s that time of year – we eat a bit too much, we have a few drinks, we want to enjoy ourselves.
But things can quickly get a lot more serious at this jolly time of year if people get behind the wheel while under the influence.
And it’s not just at night that motorists have to watch their limits – many may still find themselves falling foul of the law if they drive the morning after a big night out because alcohol is probably still be in their system.
During the Christmas period, drink-driving is one of the main priorities for Hertfordshire’s traffic cops who are out on the roads . Everyone who gets pulled over – even for a minor offence – will be breathalysed at this time of year.
Among those on the crime-fighting frontline is PC Matt Jacob, who’s also a family liaison officer so has the harrowing job of telling families when a loved one has been killed or injured in a drink-drive tragedy or other type of road accident, and PC Paul Andrews.
On average people will lose around a unit of alcohol from their system every hour but that varies and can depend on the individual and other factors such as what you’ve eaten that day and how much exercise you’ve done.
“Our advice is always not to drink at all when driving,” said PC Andrews. “I think it is just one of those unforgiveable offences. If you look at all the other offences – like speeding because you’re late for work – I’m not saying it’s right because it’s not, but there is a reason behind it.
“But drink-driving I just can’t see any reason why someone needs to get into their vehicle after drinking.”
The pair see first hand the consequences that drink-driving can have on the offenders, victims and their families.
PC Andrews said: “The worst case scenario is you kill someone.
“You have taken their life, wrecked the lives of family members, you have wrecked your own life because you are probably going to get a prison sentence, you have wrecked your own family’s lives.”
And if you’re lucky enough not to hurt anyone before getting pulled over by the police for drink-driving there are still far reaching consequences.
PC Jacob explains: “Having your licence taken away for a decent amount of time means you can lose your livelihood and, of course, when they do get their licence back that is not the end of it because they still have to get insurance.
“People might lose their home because they can’t pay rent or the mortgage, relationships break down. It all sounds a bit Hollywood, but it’s the reality.”
Last year’s drink-drive campaign saw 127 people in the county arrested for the offence and people are being asked to help police by reporting offenders via a newly launched webpage and 01707 354111 phone number.