POLICE chiefs are looking to extend the annual Christmas drink drive campaign after figures from the latest crackdown showed a 15 per cent drop in the number of arrests.

During Hampshire police’s Smashed campaign, which ran from December 1 to January 1, a total of 205 people were arrested after giving a positive reading and of those, 12 per cent were at least three times over the drink-drive limit.

That figure comes as 5,811 drivers were breathalysed, 243 more than the previous year.

Southampton recorded the highest number of arrests by area with 33 people failing breath tests in the city.

This year saw a 44 per cent increase in the number of women drivers arrested, up from 43 to 62, male driver arrests fell 27 per cent from 197 to 143.

The youngest person arrested was 17 years old, while the oldest was 81, and figures show the average age of suspected offenders was 37.

Officers leading the operation welcomed the drop in the number of arrests, but said there were still too many people risking their lives and others on the roads.

Chief Inspector Bottomley, who led the campaign, said the success of the operation meant he would be considering running elements of the campaign throughout the year.

“Taking the wreckage of a car involved in a fatal drink drive accident was well received by the public and using the social media and YouTube video to tell personal stories of the impact of a drink drive fatality seemed to help get the message across, so we will be looking at perhaps extending those elements in year-round campaigns.”

He added that officers were considering going into comprehensive schools to warn youngsters about the dangers of drink driving even before they have a chance to get behind the wheel.

Ch Insp Bottomley added: “Although I am pleased with the reduction, 205 is still far too high a number for people to be getting behind the wheel after drinking.”