The head of the garda traffic division warns members of the public are increasingly ignoring the dangers of drink-driving following a 34% rise in arrests for the offence over the festive period.
From December 1 to yesterday, there were 738 arrests on suspicion of driving under the influence. That compared to 549 in the same period in 2015.
Assistant Garda commissioner Michael Finn said: “There seems to be a bit of slippage in terms of public perception. People are drinking and driving.”
On Christmas Day alone, there were 14 arrests for drink-driving. Of those, one was a woman.
Of the 14, five were detections as a result of accidents which, Mr Finn said, illustrated the point that drink- driving puts the lives of the drivers and others at risk.
He said the detection figures had been very good for a number of years and drivers had been compliant as the message of the dangers of drink-driving was being heeded. He said it now it needed to be reinforced.
“It is disappointing following the many appeals and media focus in this area, that so many drivers continue to take such a risk. We again appeal to drivers to be responsible and to never, ever drink and drive,” he said.
Gardaí reminded drivers that intoxicated driving will continue to be targeted 24/7, including the morning after.
In the last seven days, four people have died on the country’s roads — a motorcyclist on Christmas Day, a driver on St Stephen’s Day, an elderly motorist in a collision in north Cork yesterday morning, and a woman in her 80s found dead yesterday following a crash in Cavan.
According to the Road Safety Authority, those deaths brought to 187, the numbers killed on our roads in 2016. That is 25 more than in the same period in 2015.
Gardaí and the authority renewed their appeal to drivers to be responsible as they see in the New Year — 46 drivers were arrested on suspicion of drink-driving on New Year’s Day 2016.
“We appeal to passengers to never take a lift from someone who has been drinking, and also to pedestrians — please enjoy the New Year celebrations and be safe. Plan your journey home in advance,” said Mr Finn.
Moyagh Murdock, chief executive of the Road Safety Authority, said any amount of alcohol impairs a person’s driving. “This is not an opinion, it’s a scientific fact. So if you are socialising to ring in the new year, remove temptation altogether and leave the car and keys at home and plan how you are going to get home.
“Be aware too that you may not be safe to drive the morning after a night out, as you may still have alcohol in your system. Our appeal is to passengers too, don’t take a lift from anyone who has been drinking and don’t put your life in their hands.”
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