THE number of people who failed a breath test during the Christmas clampdown fell compared to 12 months ago.

Police said positive samples in the West Mercia region showed an “encouraging” decline during the festive season, despite a record number of people being tested.

The figures, released by Safer Road Partnership for Warwickshire and West Mercia, revealed 143 people either refused to give a test or tested positive for drink and drugs, 3.8 per cent of those breathalysed during the month-long campaign.

This compared to failure from 4.4 per cent of those tested in the region during the same period in 2012.

Meanwhile, after crashes, 16 people either refused to give a test or tested positive for drink or drugs, 1.5 per cent of those tested during December 2013, compared to 3 per cent in December 2012.

Vicki Bristow, communications manager at the Safer Roads Partnership, said: “Although the percentage drop isn’t large, it’s encouraging that the number of positive breath tests we are seeing overall and after collisions is steadily reducing.

“However, there are still a significant number of motorists ignoring the simple message that drinking or taking drugs and driving ruins lives.

“It’s worrying that there are still motorists out there who think they can risk having a drink and driving.

“Our simple message to them is that it’s not worth it – driving after drinking or taking drugs will continue to be a focus to ensure the roads become safer for all.”

Figures indicate that, over the past three years, 184 people were killed or seriously injured in Warwickshire and West Mercia following collisions where drink or drugs were a factor. An additional 881 were slightly injured.

Superintendent Lee Davenport, of Warwickshire and West Mercia Police, said: “Overall, Warwickshire and West Mercia Police conducted 6,275 breath tests throughout December.

“This was an increase on previous years and shows commitment from both forces to tackling this problem to bring down the number of positive tests.

“Our figures show that we are moving in the right direction but enforcing the drink driving law is an all year round, 24 hours a day, seven days a week activity and will continue to be a priority.”