Number of drug driving arrests soar by 106% in first six months of the year

Gardaí arrest 1,216 people in first half of the year for drug driving in comparison to 591 in first six months of 2019
Number of drug driving arrests soar by 106% in first six months of the year

The Road Safety Authority, gardaí, and MBRS are highlighting the dangers of drink and drug driving ahead of the August Bank Holiday weekend. Picture: Dan Linehan

The number of people arrested for drug driving in the last six months has soared by 106% compared to last year, new figures show.

Garda enforcement figures show  1,216 drug-driving arrests were made in the first six months of 2020 compared to 591 in the first half of 2019.

Drug testing shows that cannabis is the most prevalent drug detected followed by cocaine.

The Medical Bureau of Road Safety (MBRS) said there was a 17% increase in the number of blood and urine specimens analysed in the first six months of 2020 compared to the same period last year.

It comes as the Road Safety Authority (RSA), gardaí, and MBRS aim to highlight the dangers of drink and drug driving ahead of the August Bank Holiday weekend.

The bureau said it recorded a 6.5% increase in blood and urine specimens taken from drivers arrested from March 27 to June 29, compared to the same period in 2019, despite a 70% reduction in traffic because of Covid-19 restrictions.

Separately, an analysis by the RSA of coronial data from road user fatalities in 2013 to 2017 found that, where a toxicology result was available, a third of drivers killed tested positive for alcohol.

More than 9% of drivers killed had a positive toxicology for cocaine and 7.4% had a positive toxicology for cannabis.

Liz O'Donnell, chairwoman of RSA said: "Since the introduction of roadside screening devices for drugs in 2017, the gardaí have been successful in detecting drivers under the influence of drugs.

"But the number of detections being made, and the number of specimens being analysed is also revealing the true extent of the problem. We have a big problem with drug driving in this country.

"My message for drivers is to understand that there is no hiding from drug driving any more.

"The gardaí can and are detecting drug drivers in increasing numbers on our public roads."

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