CHRISTMAS drink-drive arrests across Hampshire have dropped 15 per cent on the previous year – and Andover drivers were some of the best behaved in the county.

The lowest number of arrests was in Havant, where there were just six during the festive period, and in Andover there were nine.

During the campaign, which ran from December 1 to January 1, a total of 5,811 drivers were breath tested – an increase of four per cent on Christmas 2011.

Of those tested, 205 people gave a positive reading and were arrested. Of those, 12 per cent were at least three times the drink-drive limit.

Police have since charged 140 people (68 per cent) with drinkdrive offences, bailed 51 (25 per cent) pending further enquiries and released 14 (seven per cent) with no further action.

Chief Inspector Andy Bottomley, of roads policing, said: “I am obviously very pleased with the results, which do suggest a reduction in drink-driving offences during the campaign. After seeing a nine per cent rise in drink-drive arrests in 2011, it was clear that we needed to invest more time and resources into our Christmas campaign in 2012.

“As part of this we carried out operations and joined forces with our colleagues in the local Safer Neighbourhoods teams spreading drink-drive messages with the help of bumper stickers, beer mats in local pubs and by touring with a crashed car which just one year previously had been involved in a drink-drive fatality.

“I like to think that this has paid dividends, not only because of the number of arrests made but hopefully in that the volume of officers out on Hampshire’s roads would, for some, have been good enough reason not to chance it.”

This year saw a 44 per cent increase in female drivers arrested (up from 43 to 62), whereas male driver arrests fell 27 per cent from 197 to 143.

The failure rate for male drivers was 3.2 per cent, whereas for females it was higher at 4.4 per cent. The highest failure rate was for drivers aged 30 to 39.

Police and Crime Commissioner Simon Hayes said: “I’m also pleased to see that from the results the message about drink driving appears to be getting through. However, I am concerned that the highest failure rate was for drivers aged between 30 and 39, and also that 12 per cent of those arrested were at least three times the limit.

“Issues around alcohol misuse are ones which I will be addressing in my Police and Crime Plan, which is to be published at the end of March.

“I will be inviting partner organisations to join with me and the police in working to reduce both alcohol and drug abuse across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.

“It is important that social problems such as these are tackled seriously to ensure the message gets out that drinkdriving and antisocial behaviour are not acceptable in our communities.”