Drink driving arrests over the Christmas period doubled in a year.

The startling rise was recorded on Essex's road during December, a month in which the county's police urged intoxicated members of the public to stay away from the wheel through its anti-drink and drug drive campaign.

In total 313 people arrested – 140 on suspicion of drink driving, 139 on suspicion of drug driving, and 34 for failing to provide a specimen.

That is double the 148 caught in 2017.

Adam Pipe, head of roads policing for Essex Police, said: “This is an unprecedented number of arrests for a drink and drug driving campaign period, let alone any other month.

“To have, on average, 10 people a day arrested for drink or drug driving related offences is frightening enough but I actually think that’s only the tip of the iceberg.

“What is particularly scary is that it seems people are taking a chance because they think they can get away with it. These figures show they can’t.

“I’ve never seen this many people arrested for these offences in one month. I hope it acts as a wake-up call and worries the public, because it worries us.”

A big increase in the number of people arrested on suspicion of drug driving was also seen, reflecting the trend from across the whole of the year.

There were 1,039 drug driving arrests in 2018, up from 754 the year before.

November saw more people arrested on suspicion of drug driving than drink driving for the first time ever.

Mr Pipe added: “I don’t think people are quite grasping the full extent of the danger drug driving poses.

“Our Serious Collision Investigation Unit, which investigates the most serious crashes, has seen a rise in the number of incidents where someone has been killed or seriously injured where drugs are a factor.

“And we also have evidence that drug driving is linked to more serious criminal activity.

“Last year we carried out a study of a sample of people arrested on suspicion of drug driving and out of 231 people arrested, 56 percent had been arrested before.

“We also found that 48 percent of those who’d been arrested before had been so in connection with serious crimes including those linked to violence."

Mr Pipe also urged those with suspicions others were drink driving to notify police.

He added: “I believe people in Essex are as disgusted by drink and drug driving as we are.

"You support the work we do by helping us identify those drivers who are flouting the law."