MOTORISTS are being told there will be no excuses if they are caught drink-driving over the Christmas period.

And people are being offered a £50 to £500 reward to shop their friends who drive while over the limit by using a new hotline.

The Lancashire Road Safety Partnership is mounting the annual festive season clampdown with grim warnings of the consequences of drink-driving.

It said motorists under the influence could kill or maim someone else and have to live with it for the rest of their lives.

And it also warns a drink-drive conviction could cost someone their job and give them a criminal record.

Linda Sanderson, communications manager for the multi-agency partnership involving councils and the police, said: "There are no excuses. Motorists who drink and drive have only themselves to blame if they get caught. The only safe way is not to drink if you are driving."

Drink-drive checkpoints are being mounted across East Lancashire in town centres.

Keith Jackson, of the Road Policing Unit, said: "We will speak to people at the checkpoints and then advising them we are running a drink-drive campaign. If we form a suspicion they have been drinking we may ask them to provide a specimen of breath."

In Lancashire this year from January to October there have been 697 people arrested for drink-drive offences and the partnership says there is a national upturn in the number of incidents.

There were 460 drink-drive deaths in 1999, 520 in 2000, with most involving men aged 17 to 25 years-old. At twice the current legal limit, drivers are at least 50 times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash, according to the partnership.

And people may still be over the limit the morning after the night before. The partnership is hoping the reward, being offered across the country by Crimestoppers, will help reduce such incidents. However it is only available if people shop drink-drivers and give their name.

Linda Sanderson added: "If persistent drink-drivers refuse to acknowledge the potential consequences of their actions there is a Crimestoppers Drink Link line. "Callers can call anonymously, 24 hours a day, seven days a week."

The number is 0800 555 111.

Drivers are over the limit if they have:

Over 35 micrograms of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath

Over 80 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood

Over 107 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of urine

Amounts of drink constituting these levels vary from person to person so the advice is 'don't drink'.