herald

Thursday 27 April 2017

'We'll continue to target drink-drivers on 24/7 basis', says garda chief

The number of motorists arrested for drink-driving in 2016 is up on last year’s figure
The number of motorists arrested for drink-driving in 2016 is up on last year’s figure

The number of people caught drink-driving in 2016 is expected to reach almost 8,000 by New Year's Eve.

Up until Tuesday last week, 7,774 people had been arrested for drink-driving in 2016 compared to fewer than 7,400 last year.

The figures show a 5pc increase in the past 12 months, with another 11 days of the Christmas period to be collated.

Assistant Commissioner Michael Finn, who is responsible for the Garda Traffic Corps, said officers would continue to target offenders.

"This significant increase in detections show increased garda activity but disappointingly shows there are some who still refuse to heed all the safety messages.

Deaths

"We will continue to seek out these high-risk drivers over the coming weeks on a 24/7 basis, to make the roads safer for all road users."

In one incident this week, the Traffic Corps arrested a man who was nearly five times over the legal limit.

Meanwhile, gardai in Galway reported drivers fleeing drink-drive checkpoints.

The number of road deaths were also up: 186 so far this year compared to 160 in 2015.

Conor Faughnan, of the AA, said the increase in arrests showed that gardai were detecting more drink-drive crimes, the culture of drink-driving still exists.

"In one aspect it will hopefully show that garda resources, which were decimated for four or five years by the Government, are finally increasing again.

"The Garda Traffic Corps has been badly affected by this, and Transport Minister Shane Ross even admitted as much when he said that the increase in road fatalities could be linked to a cut in resources."

"It also shows that the cultural problem of drink-driving still exists in Ireland, which is very worrying.

"Despite all the warnings, people continue to drive under the influence of alcohol.

"These motorists include older men who see nothing wrong with drinking and driving and will continue to do so.

"They also include people who would normally never think off drinking and driving, but may chance it if they feel they won't be caught. These are the people who can be targeted and prevented with more resources and more flashing blue lights."

One of the country's most senior gardai previously described the increase in drink-driving related offences as disappointing.

Transport Minister Shane Ross has previously stated that the acceptance to drink-driving has resurfaced in recent years.

He added: "It never went away".

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