West Sussex Fire Service warning: Don't drink and drive this Christmas

Firefighters have warned of the risks and consequences of drink and drug driving over the festive period.

West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service has launched a driving under the influence (DUI) campaign as the Christmas party season gets underway.

Richard Poole, crew manager at Steyning Fire Station

Richard Poole, crew manager at Steyning Fire Station

The fire service is highlighting the experiences of its crews and members of other emergency services who have attended road traffic collisions (RTC).

In addition, an offender, currently serving a prison sentence for driving under the influence, has been speaking about his experience.

In 2017, the fire service attended 43 collisions where the driver was under the influence of alcohol.

Among those who shared their experiences was Richard Poole, crew manager at Steyning Fire Station.

He said: “When you get a report about an RTC with persons trapped, the things that go through your mind are: How bad is the accident? What are their injuries going to be?

"Are they alive? And do you know them? We join to help people, not to pick up the pieces on the side of the road.”

A drink-drive offender who killed two pedestrians has also shared his story in a bid to get people to think twice before getting behind the wheel under the influence.

The offender, who was filmed for the campaign, says: “I decided to drink, I got distracted and by the time I looked forward, I was over the stop line, and it was too late to react.

“There are two families out there that are suffering and it’s all because of my actions and my decision to drive that night.

"It’s something that I will have to live with for the rest of my life. It all could have been avoided.”

People caught driving under the influence could face a possible prison sentence , a driving ban for a minimum of 12 months , an unlimited fine, a criminal record and an increase in car insurance.

Debbie Kennard, West Sussex County Council cabinet member for safer, stronger communities, said: “Please consider the consequences of driving under the influence, not just to yourself but to those around you.

"If you’re going out and are planning to have a drink, make sure you have alternative plans to get home. Don’t drink and drive.”

For more information, visit www.westsussex.gov.uk/fire and select ‘Keeping safe campaigns’ and ‘Winter fire safety advice.’

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