ALMOST 20 per cent of motorists have taken a risk by drink-driving at Christmas, according to an AA/Populus survey.
And although half of these drink-drive incidents happened more than 20 years ago, there is still a hard core of motorists prepared to risk offending.
The poll of more than 22,000 drivers showed that three per cent admitted festive drink-driving in the last five years, while one per cent owned up to offending in the last year. The study also found that four per cent admitted drinking and driving between 10 and 20 years ago.
The research revealed that drink-driving was more likely to happen when people were young, as is the case today, with more drivers aged between 20 and 24 failing breath tests than any other age group.
It also showed that social norms and attitudes to drink-driving have changed over time. The AA said that 30 years ago many drivers viewed drink-driving as an acceptable risk.
In 1982, nearly 6,000 people died on the roads, with 1,550 (or 26 per cent) involved in reported drink-drive accidents. In 2011, 1,901 died, with only 280 (15 per cent) involving drink-drive accidents.
The survey came as the AA and drinks company Pernod Ricard UK launched a joint Christmas anti drink-drive campaign. The poll also showed that 62 per cent felt that cutting back on taxi use due to belt-tightening could lead to an increase in drink-driving this festive period.
AA president Edmund King said: "Our research shows that the number of drivers admitting drink-driving has dropped dramatically over the last 20 years, although 280 people were still killed in drink-drive crashes last year.
"Campaigns are essential to reinforce the message for the majority of drivers and to educate the new generation of drivers. It really is not worth dying for the sake of a drink. Drinking and driving do not mix. Our key message is if you are going to drink, don't drive and if you are going to drive, don't drink."
Pernod Ricard UK managing director Denis O'Flynn said: "Although the numbers risking drink-driving have dropped dramatically over the last 20 years, new and experienced drivers still need to be reminded of the risk.
"One drink-driver is still one too many."