drink drivingDavid Jones/PA Wire

The AA has found almost 20 per cent of motorists have taken a risk by drink-driving at Christmas.

While half of these drink-drive incidents happened more than 20 years ago, the motoring organisation is concerned that 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, and drivers aged between 20 and 24 are failing breath tests more than any other age group.

It also showed that social norms and attitudes to drink-driving have changed over time; 30 years ago many drivers viewed drink-driving as an acceptable risk.

The survey's results come as the AA and drinks company Pernod Ricard UK launch 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."

Road safety minister Stephen Hammond added: "Drivers should be in no doubt that if they get behind the wheel after drinking this Christmas, they risk losing their licence as well as facing a fine and even a prison sentence."