ACPO today launched its anti-drink and drug driving campaign, warning that young drivers and people driving the morning after a night of drinking pose a huge risk.
A hard-hitting television advert highlighting the consequences of drink driving will also be shown throughout December as part of the Department for Transport's THINK! Christmas drink drive campaign.
ACPO roads policing lead, Deputy Chief Constable Suzette Davenport, said: "If you don't drink and drive this Christmas you reduce the risk of killing an innocent person, or yourself. It is really that simple.
"It is an absolute scourge on our society and shameful that in 2012 some drivers fail to realise the impact of drink or drug driving. Next year's figures could include them or one of their family members."
Last year, drivers aged between 20 and 24 failed more breath tests than any other age group so this year's THINK! Christmas drink drive campaign is aimed at young people who are shown to be consistently over-represented in drink drive casualty figures. *
Road Safety Minister Stephen Hammond said: "Drivers should be in no doubt that if they get behind the wheel after drinking this Christmas, they risk losing their licence as well as facing a fine and even a prison sentence.
"Christmas should be a time for a celebration not a night in the cells. That is why our TV advert reminds drivers of the consequences of a drink drive conviction.
"Last year 280 people were killed in accidents where the driver was over the limit. Our message is clear: Do not let a selfish decision ruin your life or someone else's."
ACPO's enforcement campaign targets well-intentioned drivers who do not think they are breaking the law but may be over the legal limit by the time they get into their cars in the morning.
Police forces will be taking to roads across the country to stop and check drivers. Those found to be over the limit will face prosecution, which can lead to a jail sentence.
DCC Davenport added: "There are some drivers who think they are obeying the law but are in fact breaking it by getting into their cars the morning after a night of drinking.
"People may be surprised to hear that last year between the hours of 6am and 11am more than 400 people failed breath tests (or refused to provide a specimen), which is more than those caught for the hour before or after midnight. **
"Drivers need to be aware that regardless of the time of day they are caught, whether they are going to work or taking children to school, they will face the same penalties as someone who has chosen to drink heavily in a pub and driven at night."
Robert Gifford, Executive Director of the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (PACTS), said: "It is good to see the Department re-launching the Christmas drink-drive campaign. This advert reminds drivers that the choice is theirs but the responsibility for the wrong choice will stay with them for years to come. If in doubt, do not try to mix two activities. Stay sober at Christmas and during the rest of the year."
As well as the THINK! campaign, the Department for Transport is currently consulting on a package of tough measures to crack down on drink drivers. This includes removing drink drivers' rights to demand a blood or urine test. This is because evidence shows it is used as a delaying tactic by drivers caught over the limit behind the wheel.