Gardaí report 41% rise in driving under the influence

DRINK driving arrests in Cork city are set to break last year’s record within the next few days, according to gardaí who have seen a staggering 41% increase in detections since the introduction of mandatory breath testing.

Inspector Pat Lehane of the Cork city traffic corps confirmed yesterday that there had been 776 arrests so far this year on suspicion of driving while under the influence, compared with 615 for the same period last year. That is an increase of 26%.

In 2005, there were 807 arrests, which means with the average daily and weekend haul, that figure will be surpassed within days — and there’s still more than two months to year’s end.

Insp Lehane said from the introduction of mandatory breath testing on July 20 to October 14, there have been 319 arrests.

“If that’s compared to the same period last year, the arrests are up 41%.

“In that period in 2005 there were 227 arrests,” Insp Lehane said.

“A lot of people who escaped in the past are now being caught. Statistics tell us that over weekends 25% of all road fatalities occur. Since the introduction of these mandatory tests the number of fatalities have been down significantly,” he added.

The bulk of suspected drink drivers are being caught between midnight and 4am.

However, with improved resources in the Cork City Garda Division’s traffic corps, more checkpoints and patrols are being mounted and more people are falling into the net.

He confirmed that a small, but increasing number, of people who have been out the night before and who have either got a taxi or walked home, have been arrested the following morning on their way to work.

There is no exact science on how much an average individual can drink on a night and remain within the legal limit the following morning.

Metabolism, weight, age, the body’s capability of breaking down alcohol, the length of sleep and what somebody had to eat are all determining factors.

One thing, however, is clear. Having 10 pints at a disco, going home at 3am and getting up to drive to work at 7.30am is a potential recipe for disaster.

The average profile for drink drivers used to be male and 35 to 40-years-old.

Statistics so far this year show a drop in average age to 25-30 and while they are mostly men, the number of women being caught in the city and suburbs is also on the increase.

Insp Lehane said drug driving is also becoming an issue and some cases are already before the courts.

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