herald

Wednesday 28 June 2017

Gardai set up first checkpoint on M50 to fight rise in drink-driving

Gardai doing a MAT checkpoints on the M50
Gardai doing a MAT checkpoints on the M50

Two cars were seized and one person was arrested for drink-driving as gardai set up a checkpoint on the country's busiest road for the first time.

Gardai closed the right-hand northbound lane between the Blanchardstown and Finglas exits to put the checkpoint in place on Friday night at around 9.30pm.

During the operation, some 164 drivers were tested and one person was arrested.

Gardai also discovered five people driving with no tax on their cars.

Checkpoints have previously been set up on off-ramps of the M50 but not on the actual motorway, which caters for in excess of 350,000 vehicles a day.

The operation was in place for an hour and gardai plan to carry out similar checkpoints on the motorway in the future.

Congestion

Gridlock on the M50 has been a recurring complaint in recent months, but 9.30pm is not a peak time for traffic on the road and there were no reports of congestion during the operation.

The checkpoint was the latest operation in a gardai crackdown on drink-driving over the past number of weeks.

The number of arrests for driving under the influence spiked by a third in December, with 14 arrests on Christmas Day alone.

Separately, there were a total of 341 drink-drivers arrested in the first two weeks of December.

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

Transport Minister Shane Ross has said he is considering publicly naming and shaming drivers who are caught drink-driving in the media.

The RSA have suggested this could be done similarly to the method employed by the Revenue Commissioners to publish the names of tax evaders.

Lower alcohol limits will also be considered, as the need for new, tougher laws has become clear after the number of road deaths rose to 187 in 2016.

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