CHRISTMAS revellers should remember how much pressure the emergency services are currently under before they consider getting behind the wheel after a drink, a senior police officer has warned.

The festive period is typically a time when police forces launch special operations against drink- and drug-driving - and this year is no exception.

Gwent Police has been out conducting traffic stops and random spot-checks on motorists, to make sure they are not driving under the influence.

This included an operation in Queensway, in Newport city centre, last Friday – a day usually popular for Christmas parties and work gatherings.

In total, 84 vehicles were stopped and checked, and while no drink- or drug-drivers were caught, eight motorists were issued with traffic offence reports for things like defective tyres and number plates. 

Chief inspector Martyn Smith, of Gwent Police's road policing and specialist operations unit, warned drivers not to get behind the wheel after they've been celebrating, and said it was "never acceptable" to drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

"[It] impairs your judgement, making your reactions slower therefore it increases your chances of being involved in a collision," he said.

“If you’re out celebrating this festive season, please don’t risk your life and those around you by drink or drug driving."

Free Press Series: Gwent Police conduct traffic stops in Newport as part of a Christmas anti drink- and drug-driving operation. Picture: Gwent PoliceGwent Police conduct traffic stops in Newport as part of a Christmas anti drink- and drug-driving operation. Picture: Gwent Police


Last Christmas, more than 100 people were arrested in Gwent on suspicion of drink- or drug-driving, even though there were nationwide 'stay-at-home' laws in place during a period of lockdown. This year, the pandemic situation is less severe and most hospitality venues will remain open during the festive period.

Speaking this week, Ch Insp Smith said the police "don’t want to stop people celebrating Christmas and enjoying themselves, but we want people to stay safe, stay sensible and be mindful of the additional stresses placed on the emergency services over the festive period, especially at this critical time".

Ambulance crews and hospitals have been under pressure for months, due to high demand on services, and this is likely to continue throughout the winter, given the expected wave of Omicron coronavirus infections in the coming weeks.

People have been urged to do everything they can to avoid adding to NHS pressures, and for motorists, this also means driving safely. 

“We all have a role to play in ensuring the safety of other road users," the chief inspector added. "I would urge all motorists to drive carefully, responsibly and within the limits of the law and to ensure their vehicles are well-maintained at all times."