Public education and more patrols are promised as the number of cases soars Police have launched a festive season crackdown on drink-drivers, with figures showing that the number of alcohol-impaired drivers has soared this year. An average of 3.4 out of every 100 breathalysed drivers tested over the limit between January and November - higher than any annual result in five years. The number of drink-drivers causing accidents resulting in injuries or death is up by more than 14 per cent compared with last year, discounting figures for this month. Chief Inspector Betty Lam Cheung Suk-chi, of the road safety unit, said police had beefed up their promotional and enforcement measures during the festive period between December 14 and January 3, when the number of drink-drivers was expected to be at its worst. She said officers were distributing leaflets about the problem in nightlife areas such as Lan Kwai Fong and Wan Chai. Last year, the percentage of over-the-limit breathalyser results from December 24 to 27 was 5.9 per cent, compared with 2.9 per cent for the whole of the year. Chief Inspector Lam said officers would strictly enforce the law, even in the case of minor traffic offences in which officers usually issued only a verbal warning by exercising their discretionary power. 'The police will also step up patrols to check on people's driving attitudes,' she said. The latest police figures show that drink-driving caused 93 traffic accidents involving casualties in the first 11 months this year, surpassing the 81 cases for the whole of last year and 59 cases in 2001. Among the 37,402 drivers breathalysed after accidents or being pulled over by police as of November this year, 1,267 or 3.4 per cent exceeded the legal alcohol limit of 22 micrograms per 100 millilitres of breath. For the whole of last year, 44,202 drivers were breathalysed and 1,262, or 2.9 per cent, tested positive. The figures for 1999, 2000 and 2001 were 2.6 per cent, 2.9 per cent and 2.8 per cent respectively. The figure for 1998 was 3.8 per cent. Chief Inspector Lam said police will later launch a campaign to promote better driving behaviour called 'Care, Concern and Commitment', to target problems like falling asleep at the wheel or driving while drowsy. There were 80 fatigue-related traffic accidents which involved casualties in the first 11 months this year, compared with 87 for the whole of last year and 93 in 2001. Chief Inspector Lam also warned that those who drive or attempt to drive under the influence of drugs are liable to a maximum fine of $25,000 and a three-year jail term. But she admitted there were difficulties in enforcing laws against drug-impaired driving as police were unable to conduct a drug detection test on drivers and had to rely mainly on confessions from offenders. She said there was a lack of any objective measurable standards, such as the maximum quantity of a prescription drug allowed to be in a driver's system. An inter-departmental government working group is studying where the line should be drawn.