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A sample of over 600 convicted drivers was analysed across Northern Ireland, showing the number one offence to be driving with alcohol level above the limit.

The data, compiled by, shows that driving with alcohol above the limit accounted for 33% of all convictions, of which over half of offenders (56%) had been driving for a year or less.

The winter evenings, especially in the run up to Christmas, witness a surge in drink driving offences as alcohol intake increases dramatically across the festivities.

Drink/drug driving continues to be a major contributor in serious road traffic collisions in Northern Ireland as ‘impaired by alcohol/drugs’ was the second most common principal causation factor for KSI (killed or seriously injured) casualties in 2022.*

During the Christmas period 1st Dec 2022 – 1st Jan 2023, a total of 308 people were arrested for drink/drug driving related offences in Northern Ireland, representing an increase of 3% compared with the same period the previous year (299). The highest evidential breath test reading recorded over the campaign was 157µg/100ml, four times over the legal limit.**

Belfast City, Mid Ulster and Omagh and Fermanagh were the top three areas for drink/drug driving related offences in the same period last year.

It’s vitally important all drivers heed the warnings, especially those new to driving, and don’t drink and drive. If people need to drive the next day, they should check their blood alcohol levels using the simple online tools available – note these are only an estimate, if drivers are in any doubt about their legal limit, it’s safer to forgo driving the next day altogether.

Driving or attempting to drive while above the legal drink limit or unfit because of drink could result in 6 months in prison, a fine of up to £5,000, a ban from driving for at least 12 months or three years, if convicted twice in 10 years.

Commenting on the data, Ian Wilson, Managing Director of said: “It’s worrying to see the number of drink and drug driving related offences across Northern Ireland in the Christmas period last year reached over 300.

“I’m shocked that 33% of convictions in Northern Ireland were for alcohol levels above the limit, with over half of these offenders driving for a year or less.

“The weather around Christmas time can be particularly tricky for drivers, so it’s important that those who are new to the road make sure to take extra care and not break any rules that could put them and others in danger.

“A safe alternative would be the wide range of alcohol free beer, wine and spirits that are now available. Online calculators and home breathalyser tests can also help drivers to work out if it’s safe for them to drive.

“Everyone wants to enjoy the festive period, but motorists should avoid drink driving at all costs as the consequences can be life changing.”


For more information and access to the New Driver NI magazine see

If you would like New Driver NI to visit your school for a Safe Motoring presentation please contact Emma Duffy on 078 9995 2808 or email




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