A TOTAL of nine fatal road crashes in Avon and Somerset over the past year were linked to drink or drug driving, according to police.

Officers from the force's Operation Tonic are once again out and about on the roads to highlight the dangers of getting behind the wheel over the limit.

Supt Claire Armes said: “This year there have been nine fatal road traffic collisions across Avon and Somerset linked to drink or drug driving.

"This is a worrying statistic and shows that the message is still not getting through. The tragic consequences of risking drink or drug driving are clear for all to see.

"Visiting a family to tell them their loved one has died or has been taken to hospital in a critical condition is perhaps the most difficult message that we have to give.

"It is horrendous to deliver this message at any time of the year, and it’s certainly not the message we want to deliver this Christmas.

"Our message is simple, don’t take the risk – it’s not worth it.

"The worst-case scenario is that you are responsible for killing someone, ruining the lives of dozens of that person’s friends and family and a lengthy prison term to contemplate your actions."

Throughout December, officers are carrying out intelligence-led enforcement activity on our roads and taking every opportunity to remind people of the potentially fatal consequences of driving while under the influence of drink or drugs.

Information from neighbourhood police teams and members of the public is used to do evidence based stop-checks to target habitual drink drivers.

By December 18, 89 people had been arrested in connection with drink or drug driving.

Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens said: "Over the festive period, many of us will be having fun celebrating with friends and family.

"But remember, driving under the influence of drink or drugs is a serious crime that can have devastating consequences.

"Even being ‘slightly’ over the limit will still land you with a penalty if you’re caught and it’s really not worth the risk."

Last winter, Avon and Somerset Police received more than 392 tip-offs from members of the public about intoxicated drivers.

Officers managed to respond to three-quarters of the tip-off calls, leading to146 arrests and 78 people being charged.

All other information received was fed into assisting future investigations and intelligence led operations.

Members of the public can help support police by reporting anyone who is suspected of drink or drug driving.

If you know about someone who is currently driving under the influence, then call 999 or in less urgent case then call 101 or report online at avonandsomerset.police.uk/OpTonic

Alternatively, members of the public can make reports through Crimestoppers. The more information that can be provided, the more useful the intelligence will be.