Nearly 30% more suspected drink-drivers have been arrested in Cork city and county in the past three months compared to the same period last year.
Drunkenness and minor assaults are also up and gardaí believe the improving economy has a lot to do with the trend.
A Cork City and County Joint Policing Committee (JPC) meeting was told by Chief Superintendent Con Cadogan that there had been a 28.5% rise in those arrested on suspicion of drink-driving from April to June, compared to the same three months in 2016.
The senior officer, who is in charge of the Cork West Garda Division, said the number of such arrests on his patch had risen from 40 to 55. He added that the Cork City Garda Division saw an increase from 77 to 107 and they were also up in the Cork North Garda Division from 69 to 77. In the same three-month period this year, drunkenness offences across the three divisions had risen to 312, up from 282 in the same period in 2016.
Assaults causing harm had remained relatively constant, but minor assaults had jumped from 325 to 374.
JPC vice chairman Independent councillor Timmy Collins said he was surprised by the increase.
Chief Superintendent Gerard Dillane, who is in charge of policing north and east Cork, said he had no doubt there was a connection with the increases in certain offences and the upturn in the economy.
Fianna Fáil TD Kevin O’Keeffe, who is opposed to tougher drink-driving legislation proposed by Transport Minister Shane Ross, maintained the rise in detections was in part due to a greater garda presence on the roads, which Chief Supt Cadogan agreed with. Labour councillor Cathal Rasmussen said he backed Mr Ross’s views and wanted “zero tolerance”.
Mr O’Keeffe said he was unable to get figures on the percentage of drivers who failed the breathalyser “the morning after”.
Chief Supt Cadogan said he did not have the figures to hand, but would provide them at the next JPC meeting. He said a lot of these detections came as a result of gardaí arriving at the scenes of minor accidents.
Chief Supt Dillane said “a few were caught every week” and that it takes about an hour to get a unit of alcohol out of a person’s system.
Gardaí believe the upturn in the economy has also increased jobs and put more people back on the road.
A total of 126 non-serious injury collisions were recorded in the past three months, with 102 in the same period last year and material damage to vehicles rose from 1,237 to 1,292.
However, there were just seven fatal accidents in the city and county from April to June, compared to 17 in the 2016 period. Chief Supt Cadogan told Fianna Fáil TD Aindrias Moynihan that 60% to 70% of his frontline personnel were trained to detect drug-driving offences and said he would provide him with a breakdown on drug-driving figures at the JPC’s next meeting in October.
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