Police were left in the dark as to why several motorists were seen driving at night without any lights on – until they each failed a roadside breath test.
Officers on patrol across Sussex spotted four separate vehicles travelling at night, without lights, in the space of just five hours, occurred in Eastbourne, Crawley, Brighton and Lower Beeding.
Having since appeared before magistrates, each of the motorists have been disqualified from driving for a period of at least 18 months.
The arrests were made as part of Operation Dragonfly, Surrey and Sussex Police’s summer crackdown on drink and drug-drivers.
At about 11.40pm on Saturday July 9, police were flagged down by staff at The Alexandra Arms public house in Seaside, Eastbourne.
The officers were told there was an ‘extremely drunk’ couple in the rear car park who had refused to hand their keys over after leaving the pub.
Moments later, a blue Ford Focus emerged from the car park and turned left onto Allfrey Road. The vehicle had no lights on and was driving very slowly.
Police signalled for the car to stop, but it continued into Norway Road and left onto Vine Square, before it eventually came to a standstill.
PC Deborah Sands said, “As we approached the driver, it was immediately apparent that he was heavily intoxicated from his demeanour and the smell of alcohol coming from him.
“He was arrested on suspicion of drink-driving and the female passenger was taken home. Both parties were extremely drunk and verbally abusive to officers.”
The suspect initially refused to provide any personal details but, once at custody, a driving licence was found in his wallet which identified him as Darren Johnson, of Dacombe Drive, Poole, Dorset.
The 47-year-old, who is unemployed, failed a breath test and was subsequently charged with driving with 97mcg of alcohol per 100ml of breath in his system – well over twice the legal limit of 35mcg.
He pleaded guilty at Hastings Magistrates’ Court and was disqualified from driving for 24 months. He was also ordered to carry out 110 hours of unpaid work in the next 12 months, and pay £85 costs and a £85 victim surcharge.
Three further motorists were stopped for the same reason within the next five hours in Sussex.
Sergeant Phil Badman, of the Surrey and Sussex Police Roads Policing Unit, said: “It goes without saying that being under the influence of drink or drugs can seriously impair your ability to drive. Typically, your reaction times are dramatically reduced, and the effects of your lack of judgement could easily lead to a collision.
“Worryingly, the motorists convicted in these cases were unable to operate even the most basic of facilities in their vehicles, which in turn brought them to the attention of police.
“It demonstrates that no matter how capable you think you are of driving with drink or drugs in your system, the chances are you are in no fit state to get behind the wheel.
“It also shows that we continue to stop vehicles throughout the year – not just during dedicated drink or drug-driving campaigns – for a number of reasons.
“Our advice, as always, is never to drive while under the influence. The consequences can be devastating and it’s simply not worth the risk.”
People in Sussex can text officers on 65999 with the details of people they suspect of drink or drug driving or visit www.operationcrackdown.co.uk.
You can also contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 (www.crimestoppers-uk.org).
To keep up to date with officers looking for drink or drug drivers, follow #opdragonfly on Twitter.
If you know someone is driving while over the limit or after taking drugs call 999.
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