Drink-driving detections fall by 50%

The number of motorists detected driving under the influence of alcohol has fallen by more than 50% over the past five years, with a record low number of drink-driving offences likely to be recorded in 2012.

Drink-driving detections fall by   50%

In 2007, one in every 25 motorists tested for drink- driving was found over the legal blood-alcohol limit.

However, the figure is close to just one motorist in 50 tests since 2011.

Gardaí welcomed the downward trend yesterday, but warned drink driving was still a problem among male drivers aged 23-32.

However, gardaí claim there had been a reduction in the incidence of driving above the legal limit across all age groups since 2007, with the exception of females aged 58-67.

They also revealed that almost half of all motorists aged 38-47 had blood alcohol concentrations over three times the legal limit.

Garda figures show almost 19,900 motorists were caught drink driving in 2007. But the number of offenders has fallen steadily ever since and reduced to 10,575 in 2011, while 8,747 motorists were detected above the legal limit up to Nov 30.

Gardaí said there had been a 3% increase in the number of checkpoints in the first 11 months of this year — compared to the corresponding period in 2011. A total of 66,336 checkpoints were operated so far in 2012 — 1,786 more than at the same time last year.

However, the actual number of breath tests on motorists has declined sharply during 2012. More than 537,300 motorists were tested last year, while just over 426,300 were tested up to the end of November this year.

A Garda spokesperson said one of the main reasons for the reduction was new lower drink driving limits which meant breathalyser equipment had to be calibrated to three different levels by gardaí at checkpoints.

However, concern has been expressed by some road safety campaigners the pattern is influenced by reductions in the size of the Garda Traffic Corps and the force in general.

The new rules saw the standard blood alcohol concentration limit for motorists fall from 0.8 (80mgs/100ml) to 0.5, while learner and professional drivers must adhere to the lower limit of 0.2.

In the 12-month period since the lower limits came into effect on Oct 28 last year, 9,771 drink driving incidents were recorded.

Almost 13% of these offenders were issued with fixed charge notice.

Some 299 cases related to specified (learner/professional drivers) who were fined €200 and disqualified for three months, while 620 cases related to full-licence holders with a blood alcohol level between the new and old limits. They were given a €200 fine and 3 penalty points.

Garda detected 341 drivers with blood alcohol levels in the 80-100mg/ml range who incurred a six- month disqualification and a €400 fine.

Gardaí acknowledged there was a phenomenon under the new legislation of motorists being found over the limit on the “morning after” with a sizeable number of detections on Sunday mornings.

* RELATED STORY:

Motorist caught over the limit on 26 occasions

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