Almost 400 motorists have been caught drink driving on at least four occasions over the past four years, a major Garda study has revealed.
The new figures highlight how driving above the legal alcohol limit remains a problem among a small proportion of motorists — usually male.
The worst offender was a middle-aged male who has been detected drink driving 26 times since Jan 2008.
Five motorists have been caught for the offence on ten or more occasions over the same period.
Official Garda figures show 5,852 motorists have been caught on two or more occasions above the legal drink-driving limit, with 399 detected on at least four occasions.
Recidivist drink drivers now account for almost 11% of all motorists who fail to pass mandatory alcohol tests at Garda checkpoints, while they account for 22% of all drink-driving detections since Jan 2008.
Gerard Philips, Assistant Garda Commissioner, who has responsibility for traffic operations, acknowledged there was a problem with repeat offenders for drink driving among a small proportion of the motoring population.
“There is a cohort of people who refuse to respect other road users and are repeatedly arrested for drink driving and often driving while disqualified,” he said.
However, he warned: “These selfish drivers are and will continue to be intercepted if they attempt to drink and drive.”
The study of all drink-driving detections between Jan 1, 2008 and Sept 23, 2012, shows that male motorists account for 86% of offences.
It also revealed there is a propensity among motorists of certain nationalities to be repeat offenders.
More than a third of all Lithuanian and Latvian motorists caught drink driving here have been detected for the offence on two or more occasions. The figure for Irish drivers is just under 22% and only 10.5% among motorists from the North.
The majority of drink- driving offences were committed by offenders between the age of 22 and 36, despite a popular perception that it is a problem associated with middle-aged drivers.
Asked if gardaí were frustrated that repeat offenders seemed to be able to continue to drive on the roads without major sanction despite previous detections, Mr Philips replied: “We are doing our job. People are being caught and are being penalised.”
Gardaí stressed that some repeat offenders have received prison sentences, while others have received extended periods of dis-qualification.
The Road Safety Authority has recommended a series of measures to address the problem including the requirement for convicted drink drivers to have alco- locks fitted to their vehicles.
The breathalyser-style equipment prevents a car’s engine from being turned on if it detects alcohol from the driver’s breath.
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