Drink driving arrests ‘increase week on week’

The number of arrests for driving under the influence between January and April 2017 has risen by 18% compared to the same period last year, according to gardaí.

The figure was released to coincide with the Road Safety Authority’s International Road Safety Conference, held yesterday.

Conference attendees heard a number of new findings from the RSA, including research that shows alcohol was present in 30% of road traffic collision fatalities in 2013 and 2014.

Gardaí say April 2017 saw more arrests for drink driving than in any single month in the past five years, and speaking at the RSA international conference, Supt Con O’Donohue said arrests for driving under the influence “continue to increase week on week”.

“Alcohol-impaired driving continues to be one of the most significant factors contributing to fatal and serious collisions on Irish roads. While it is disappointing to see that drivers are still prepared to take a chance it is important for all to understand that there is significant and focused enforcement by An Garda Síochána of our life-saving intoxicated driving laws,” said Supt O’Donohue.

The conference focussed on the role alcohol plays in accidents on Irish roads and featured presentations from international experts on road safety and enforcement from Australia, the US, Sweden, Spain, Brussels, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Liz O’Donnell, RSA chairwoman, said the authority supports the move to introduce an automatic disqualification for drivers found to be over the legal alcohol limit: “Consuming any alcohol impairs driving and increases the risk of a collision. Saving lives on Irish roads requires a zero-tolerance attitude to drink-driving.”

Transport Minister Shane Ross, who attended the conference, said drink-driving in Ireland “remains a significant problem”, which is why he is introducing the Road Traffic (Fixed Penalty-Drink Driving) Bill 2017.

“I look forward to hearing the insights of the international speakers on how they have sought to tackle the scourge of drink driving in their jurisdictions, in particular the penalties they have in place, which I understand in Sweden and Queensland are far stricter than anything we have in place or are proposing under my new bill.”

RSA research also showed that:

  • 55% of all fatalities with a positive toxicology for alcohol were male driver/motorcyclist deaths;
  • That 33% of all fatalities with a positive toxicology for alcohol took place across Galway (10%), Cork (11%) and Dublin (12%);
  • And that 57% of all fatalities with a positive toxicology for alcohol took place between 8pm and 4am.

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