The number of people arrested for drink-driving has nearly halved in almost 10 years, figures obtained by Sky News reveal.

They fell from more than 57,000 in 2008 to just over 30,000 in 2017, according to 25 out of 43 police forces in England and Wales that responded to a freedom of information request.

It comes as the most recent provisional Department for Transport figures estimate more people were killed in drink-driving accidents in 2017 than at any time since 2009, despite the number seemingly plateauing in recent years.

In most police forces, there is a drop in the number of drink driving arrests
Image: In most police forces, there is a drop in the number of drink-driving arrests

There were an estimated 290 deaths in 2017 – the highest since 2009 when the number was 380.

This has raised fears that roads policing is not doing enough to stop deaths.

In London, the Metropolitan Police arrested 10,882 people for a drink-driving offence in 2008, compared to 4,024 in 2017. Among those was a 10-year-old child who was arrested in 2009.

The number of fatalities has gone down in the last eight years
Image: The number of fatalities could be higher in 2017 than any time since 2009

In Greater Manchester, arrests also fell from 4,885 to 2,109.

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Joshua Harris, from the road safety charity Brake, said of the fall in arrests: “We are very concerned by these figures. They are really indicative of the savage cuts in roads policing in the last 10 years. We really want to see roads policing made an investment priority so dangerous drivers are kept off our roads.”

Drink-driving deaths on the roads are less common than they were decades ago.

If you look as far back as 1979, 1,640 people were killed in an accident where the driver was over the drink-drive limit.

Victoria Bates was on her way to see her parents in Kent when another car “pulled out of nowhere” and crashed into her.

She was bed bound for a month and had extensive hospital treatment
Image: Ms Bates was bed-bound for a month and had extensive hospital treatment
Ms Bates' leg after her surgery
Image: Her leg after surgery

Her car flipped and she was left hanging upside down on a dual carriageway.

Ms Bates says: “I remember opening my eyes and thinking no this isn’t happening… I just remember thinking, I know it sounds gross, ‘my leg is hanging off, my leg my leg’, but also, because I had broken all of my ribs and I had punctured my lungs as well, I was struggling to breathe, so it was really hard to talk…

“I always consider myself a safe driver, but there was nothing I could have done at all, nothing.”

The car 'came out of nowhere' Ms Bates said
Image: Her car flipped and she was left hanging upside down, Ms Bates says
Miss Bates now has a metal plate in her neck
Image: Ms Bates now has a metal plate in her neck

Ms Bates was paralysed on her right side and bed-bound for more than a month.

The driver of the other car was killed. He was nearly three times over the drink-drive limit.

Nearly two years on, and with a metal rod in her leg and neck, Ms Bates can walk short distances on a crutch.

She knows she’s lucky to be alive, but not a day goes by that she isn’t reminded of how much her life has changed.

She told me: “I’m a completely different person to who I was before. I can’t walk around London on and off the tube, I can’t do my job in the way I used to. I used to be so career driven, but my whole life has changed completely. All in the blink of an eye.”

She's had metal rods put in her leg
Image: She’s also had metal rods put in her leg
Miss Bates says her life has completely changed now
Image: Ms Bates says her life has completely changed now

In a statement the Home Office said: “Drink-driving is completely unacceptable, which is why there are tough penalties in place.

“In 2018 there were 29% fewer fatalities involving a driver who was over the legal blood alcohol limit, compared with 2007.

“This year we increased funding for the police by over £970m, including council tax – the most substantial investment in policing since 2010. It is for Chief Constables and locally-elected Police and Crime Commissioners to decide how to deploy these resources.”

Victoria Bates was left bed bound for a month
Image: Ms Bates was paralysed on her right side

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