Breath-testing scandal highlights failures in enforcement

Analysis: State is far behind other European countries on testing, even with fake figures

It is thought the State will face a huge legal bill arising from prosecuted cases, which should never have proceeded.

It is thought the State will face a huge legal bill arising from prosecuted cases, which should never have proceeded.

 

The revelations that Garda breath-testing data had been inflated by 100 per cent in recent years means the State’s position in international enforcement rankings has been grossly overstated.

Even when it was believed that two million breath tests had been performed by gardaí between 2012 and 2016, rather than the one million which An Garda Síochána has admitted were actually carried out, the level of enforcement in the Republic compared very poorly with our European neighbours.

The European Transport Safety Council compiles annual statistics on breath-testing.

The most up-to-date figures - those for 2015 - were published late last year.

The figures show the Republic conducted the lowest number of breath tests of the 12 European countries which carried out random testing and for which figures were Estonia led the way, carrying out 677 tests for every 1,000 inhabitants in 2015.

It was followed by Poland, which carried out 466 tests per 1,000 inhabitants.

Finland was third in the table, with 279 tests carried out per 1,000 inhabitants.

At the foot of the table was Ireland, with 71 tests per 1,000 inhabitants.

Romania was one place higher, with 72 tests per 1,000 inhabitants.

Given the Irish data was inflated by 100 per cent, the figure for the State should been 35.5 tests per 1,000 inhabitants.

This would have shown even more clearly how far the State lags behind other countries on breath-testing.

Comparing the real Irish figure with those for the top three countries in the survey makes for very difficult reading.

The 2015 figures indicate that, for every breath test An Garda Síochána carries out, the Estonian police do 19, the Poles do 13 and the Finns do eight.