POLICE lack the powers necessary to make the government's latest festive drink drive campaign effective, according to a road safety watchdog.

GEM motoring assist believes that without evidential roadside breath testing and random stop and test legislation the latest THINK! campaign, aimed at 17 to 29-year-old men, will be frustrated.

It also claims the UK now has one of the lowest screening rates in Europe for drink driving offences.

David Williams, chief executive of the road safety watchdog, said: "While we fully support the Department for Transport's THINK! campaign it is difficult to understand the rationale in spending hundreds of thousands of pounds at Christmas to dissuade young men from drinking and driving and then not giving the police the means to combat the problem on our danger-filled roads."

And an online poll by the watchdog revealed that 80 per cent of the public who voted believe police should be given the power to breath test randomly.

Legislation to give police these powers has been in place for more than a year but Home Office bureaucrats have not given approval for the breath testing equipment yet.

Mr Williams explained that the Swedes have been using evidential breath testing since 1989. He said: "If the Swedes are confident in the system after more than 15 years it is difficult to understand the delays caused by our own Home Office. Why don't they just ring up their Swedish counterpart?"

Kirsty Gelsthorpe, a Department for Transport spokesman, said: "During 30 years of DfT THINK! Drink Drive campaigns, the number of people killed in alcohol-related road accidents each year has more than halved. This work is continuing and DfT is spending £1.5million on the THINK! Drink Drive campaign this December alone."

Breathalysers have been used in the UK since 1967 to test the levels of alcohol a driver has consumed, but last year, according to Department for Transport figures, 560 people were killed and 2,100 were seriously injured in drink drive incidents in 2005.