The National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) has stressed that it remains ‘highly likely’ drink driving offenders will be caught, on the back of figures showing roadside breath tests have fallen to their lowest level on record.

New Government data, analysed by personal breathalyser firm Alcosense, shows that in 2020, 252,069 motorists were breathalysed by Police – an 18% fall compared with the previous year.

This fall continues the downward trend seen since the peak of 703,490 breath tests in 2009.

Of the 2020 breath tests, 17.2% of drivers were over the limit – the highest proportion since 2003.

Heading into the festive period, the NPCC has warned “personal responsibility is the starting point for safer roads”.

CC Jo Shiner, NPCC lead for roads policing, said: “I am deeply concerned that people are still choosing to drink and drive despite the known risks and consequences.

“We all know roads policing officer numbers reduced during really challenging financial times, but we also know there is fresh investment in roads policing officers and technologies.

“Be under no illusion, despite a reduction in the number of roadside breath tests completed, if you drink and drive, or use drugs and drive, it is highly likely that you will be caught.”

Meanwhile, Home Office figures show the number of dedicated roads policing officers in England and Wales had dropped to 3,850 by March 2021  – compared with 5,220 in 2015.

Hunter Abbott, managing director of AlcoSense, said: “With ever fewer traffic police, testing will continue to spiral downwards.

“Studies show people drinking more alcohol since Covid struck, particularly at home – so roadside tests should actually be stepped up given the danger of ‘morning after’ driving with alcohol still in your system.”