THE NUMBER of motorists caught drink or drug driving during the festive period soared last year, figures have revealed.

Police caught 347 people driving under the influence of booze or drugs in Thames Valley between December 1 2017 and January 1 2018.

Officers took part in a crackdown called Operation Holly, which saw a 10 per cent rise in arrests for drink driving across Thames Valley and Hampshire.

A total of 601 arrests were made across the two policing areas, with 352 motorists charged and 175 released under police investigation.

Sergeant Rob Heard said: "We’ve seen a rise in the number of people we have arrested for drink or drug-driving. New legislation and equipment has made detecting drug drivers much easier and this resulted in 63 extra arrests. Twenty-five per cent of those were impaired by drugs.

“Our commitment in roads policing is unwavering towards preventing the distress and misery caused by driving under the influence of drink or drugs.

“Such behaviour on our roads has far-reaching effects not just for the impaired driver, but for any innocent road users affected by their destructive decisions.

“The lives of individuals and their families can be torn apart through a combination of physical, psychological and legal consequences.

“Too many people continue to be complacent about the realities of road deaths and serious injuries. That’s why we want everyone to be clear about their responsibilities, and have respect for each other on the road."

Operation Holy was a combination of high visibility patrols, covert operations and intelligence-led policing aimed at targeting persistent offenders.

Residents were urged to contact the force if they suspected anyone of drink or drug driving.

Sgt Heard continued: “As in previous campaigns, we were greatly assisted by members of the public who passed us vital information and helped us take these drivers off the roads. Drink and drug-driving kills or injures people.

“Our message is simple – don’t mix drink or drugs with driving – it’s not worth the risk.”