herald

Wednesday 16 October 2019

Motorists 'failing to heed drink-drive message' as gardai make 445 arrests

Gardai breathalyse drivers at a Custom House checkpoint
Gardai breathalyse drivers at a Custom House checkpoint

Nearly 450 people have been arrested on suspicion of drink- driving since November 30, gardai have revealed.

Of the 445 total, 218 were arrested in the week leading up to Monday.

The most common time period for arrests was between 11pm and 4am, with 205 made during those hours.

Forty-three arrests were made between 9am and 12pm.

A spokesperson for the Road Safety Authority (RSA) said the high number was "disappointing" following the launch of its annual Christmas campaign.

Risk

"It's disappointing to see so many drivers failing to heed our Christmas and New Year mess-age," the spokesperson said.

"However, it does clearly demonstrate that the gardai are out enforcing our drink- driving laws.

"Drivers who are willing to take a very silly chance to drink- drive are putting their own and the lives of others at risk.

"The safest option to take if planning to head out is to plan how you are going to get home. Also be aware of the dangers of drink-driving the morning after."

Last December, 812 people were arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated.

With the tally already at the halfway mark so far this month, the figure could end up matching last year's.

The RSA said 11pc of fatal collisions in which a driver has drunk alcohol happen between 7am and 11am.

There have been eight fatalities on Irish roads so far this month, but the annual figure shows a slight fall.

A total of 144 people have been killed to date in 2018, compared with 150 in the same period last year.

However, as of Tuesday, the number of fatal collisions has risen by one to 137.

Speaking at the launch of the Christmas and New Year appeal last month, Transport Minister Shane Ross urged drivers to take care because of the introduction of tighter laws.

"I appeal to all those socialising over the Christmas and New Year period to do so responsibly and never, ever, drink and drive, including the morning after," he said.

"It's simply not worth the risk now that new penalties have been introduced which mean drivers detected with a blood-alcohol concentration of between 50 and 80mg face losing their licence for three months."

Checks

Under the new legislation which was introduced in the summer, all drink-drivers receive an automatic three-month disqualification.

Previously, motorists who drove above the blood-alcohol limit were subject to receiving penalty points.

As part of their Christmas crackdown, gardai will continue to carry out random checks around the country.

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