TRAFFIC cops carry out 1,100 fewer alcohol breath tests each year on drivers in Wiltshire than a decade ago, figures reveal.

Road safety charity Brake says the decline is symptomatic of savage cuts to police numbers. It has called for better funding and a zero tolerance drink-drive limit.

Home Office statistics show that 6,315 breath tests were conducted by Wiltshire Police in 2018 – around 1,100 fewer than in 2009, the first year with comparable data. Of those last year, drivers failed or refused to do 1,034 – 16 per cent of all tests..

Brake said falling police budgets have left forces less able to do checks on potentially dangerous drink-drivers.

“Couple that with the fact that the number of positive breath tests increased, and it shows that drink-driving remains a serious issue on our roads,” a spokesman for the charity added.

“Brake is calling for the Government to implement a zero tolerance drink-drive limit, making clear to drivers that not a drop of alcohol is safe, and increase investment in national roads policing to provide the police with the resources they need to tackle the menace of drink-driving.”

A Wiltshire Police spokesman said: “The force will be joining the national campaign to deter drink drug drivers over the festive season and would urge everyone to leave the car at home if they are planning to drink alcohol when out socialising.

"Members of the public can report suspected drink drivers by calling 101.

"Last year we received 2355 calls from the public on our drink/drug hotline."

A Home Office spokesman said a fall in the number of tests could be down to various factors, including increased awareness of the law, and police prosecuting drivers under more serious offences, or choosing other enforcement methods such as education courses.

He added: “We are giving police the tools they need, including recruiting 20,000 new police officers over the next three years, and making it easier for them to use stop and search powers.”