herald

Thursday 22 June 2017

Christmas crackdown leads to 341 drink-driver arrests in two weeks

A total of 341 drink-drivers were arrested in the first two weeks of this month.

That is an increase of 89 on the 252 arrests made in the same period last year.

Gardai say the increase is down to "smart policing" and an extra 1,000 checkpoints.

There are now 3,500 checkpoints nationwide aimed at catching motorists driving under the influence of alcohol.

Assistant Commissioner Michael Finn, describing Christmas as a "particularly high-risk period", called on drivers not to put their lives, or those of other road users, at risk.

"So the message is simply this: do not drink and drive this Christmas."

There have been 182 deaths on Irish roads so far this year, an increase of 34 on last year.

An Garda Siochana and the Road Safety Authority (RSA) launched the Christmas and New Year anti-drink driving campaign on December 1.

Since then, 51 arrests have been made in Dublin.

"This is a reduction of 10 drivers on the same period last year, which is encouraging, but still the figures are far too high for the region," said Supt Tom Murphy.

Gardai are urging motorists to make alternative plans early in the day before they drink.

They are also warning drivers to make sure they are not over the limit the day after a night of heavy drinking.

Chief Supt Aidan Reid said: "Nearly 350 people have now been detected in the first two weeks of the campaign and this will continue if people do not heed that message.

Responsibility

"We're going to be out there for the Christmas, and people who aren't taking personal responsibility will be detected.

There have been significant increases in detection of drink- driving all over the country.

In the eastern region, Wexford has seen the most significant increase.

"We have carried out well over 700 mandatory alcohol testing checkpoints in the eastern region," said Supt Tom Mullarkey.

"We still have another two weeks to go and we expect that we will be carrying out at least another 700 checkpoints and possibly more."

An Garda Siochana warned drivers to expect checkpoints and breathalysers.

This year's drink-drive campaign was launched with a heart-rending RSA video featur- ing the Treacy family.

Gillian and Ronan Treacy had their four-year-old son taken from them by a drink-driver in a horrific car crash in 2014 and are now at the forefront of the Christmas campaign.

"Drink-driving kills, maims and shatters lives," said Transport Minister Shane Ross.

"While many people have changed their behaviour for the better, there is still a cohort of people who think it is acceptable to drink and drive. It is not."

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