A NEW festive drinking campaign has been launched in Scotland to tackle drink and drug-driving over the Christmas period.

Launched by Scotland's ­Transport Minister and Police Scotland, the drive ­highlights the criminal and ­personal consequences of being found guilty of driving under the influence.

The campaign is backed by 48-year-old Niki Smith, who was paralysed in a road collision in 1997, when she ­accepted a lift from someone who – unknown to Niki – had been ­drinking.

Niki, from Aberdeenshire, has now shared her experience to remind drivers that drink-driving can have devastating consequences and urges anyone to think twice before getting behind the wheel – as even one drink is too many if you’re driving.

With Christmas parties returning this year, the festive enforcement campaign warns motorists of a zero-tolerance approach to drink and drug-driving.

In the last two months, 1852 ­roadside drug tests have been ­carried out across Scotland, ­resulting in 395 positive tests. On average, ­specialist road officers encounter 40-50 ­motorists a week who have taken drugs. Drivers who provide a ­positive roadside drug test are arrested and taken to a police station where a blood sample is obtained and sent for further analysis. In the same time period, 600 drivers were arrested for drink driving related offences.

The campaign draws attention to the significant consequences – ­criminal as well as personal – of being found guilty of driving while under the influence of alcohol or with drugs in your system.

Transport Minister Graeme Dey said: “The consequences of drink and drug-driving can be devastating and those found guilty of ­breaking the law could face a ­criminal record, a large fine, and up to six months in prison. Driving while under the influence puts not only the driver, but passengers and other road ­users at risk of serious injury, or even worse. Our message is clear, if you’re having a drink, leave the car at home and if you’re driving, the best approach is none.”

More than 20,000 drivers are stopped by the police in Scotland ­every month and Police Scotland’s enforcement campaign will see an even stronger focus on drink driving on Scotland’s roads from yesterday.

Chief Superintendent Louise Blakelock, Police Scotland’s Head of Road Policing said: “We want everyone to enjoy this festive season for all the right reasons and so we are urging motorists to help us keep the roads safe for all. We continue to see motorists put others at considerable risk by driving under the influence of alcohol or after taking drugs, despite repeated warnings about the dangers of drink or drug driving.

“As we approach the festive season, our officers will be focused on targeting drivers who recklessly put others at risk by driving after consuming alcohol or drugs. Driving under the influence reduces reaction times and continues to be a factor in serious and fatal collisions. The fact you could kill or injure yourself or another member of the public should be reason enough not to risk it.

“As well as roadside breath testing, officers can also test drivers at the roadside suspected of ­taking drugs, following limits ­being set in law in October 2019. There is a zero tolerance approach to drugs most commonly associated with illegal use, including cannabis, cocaine and heroin.

“I am urging drivers to plan ahead this festive season, think how you’re getting home after drinking and consider the impact alcohol can still have the morning after. Please don’t drink or take drugs and drive, it’s not worth the risk, do your part, and help keep our roads safe this festive season.”

Recalling the day of the collision, Niki Smith said: “It was a Friday evening and my sister and I were ­having a great night out. I enjoyed ­letting my hair down in between working as a carer and being a busy mum. We ­accepted a lift from someone we knew, although we had no idea he’d been drinking. It was a small decision that changed my life irreversibly.

“It must have been heart-breaking for my family and partner to be told I’d broken my neck and was paralysed. My sister, who was in the car with me, broke her collarbone and was later diagnosed with PTSD. I’m glad it was me, as I would have struggled to accept her having my injury.”