Family and friends urged to inform Garda about drink-drivers

Garda warn of breathalysing crackdown over the course of St Patrick’s weekend

The Garda and road safety agencies are warning motorists not to drink and drive, especially over the St Patrick’s Day weekend. Photograph: John Giles/PA

People who were ignored when they pleaded with family and friends not to drink-drive this St Patrick’s Day weekend should immediately report them to gardaí, the officer in charge of the State’s road policing has said.

Assistant Commissioner Michael Finn said men in their late 30s were more likely to kill themselves or other road users in fatal collisions while intoxicated than people in other age groups.

Of car drivers killed in road traffic collisions, one-third had been drinking and, of those, 98 per cent were male, he said. March is the second most dangerous month for alcohol-related collisions in the State.

The findings have been released as the Garda and road safety agencies are warning motorists not to drink and drive over the St Patrick’s Day weekend.


The Garda has said its members will be out in force breathalysing drivers, with a 12 per cent increase in drink-driving arrests having already recorded this year.

Mr Finn said drink-drivers should not be shielded from the law by loved ones. Instead, friends and family members should report them so they can be caught.

While the Garda wanted the public to enjoy the national holiday everyone had a right to take to the roads without meeting an alcohol-impaired motorist.

Mr Finn wanted people to “do their bit” this weekend and “stop these drivers from putting lives at risk” by driving under the influence.

“If they don’t listen, phone the gardaí and report it, you might save a life,” he said.

Intoxicated drivers

Since the start of the year 1,500 people have been arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated, a 12 per cent increase on the same period last year.

The data on the number of drivers killed in road traffic collisions who were found to have alcohol in their systems comes from a study of 2014 road deaths. It was commissioned by the Road Safety Authority and conducted by the Health Research Board.

Exactly one-third of motorcycle drivers who died had a positive toxicology for alcohol. Some 35 per cent of car drivers killed and 28 per cent of pedestrians killed had a positive toxicology for alcohol

An overwhelming majority, 96 per cent, of those killed driving motorbikes or cars after drinking were male. The median age for male drivers with a positive blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was 38.

The median BAC for car drivers killed was 192mg and for motorcyclists 104mg. Both are a multiple of the 50mg at which sanctions begin in the State.

Minster for Transport Shane Ross said the data confirmed Ireland's "unhealthy relationship" with alcohol.

“It’s spilling on to our roads. It’s further evidence, if it were needed, that action must be taken to stop people getting behind the wheel of a car or getting on to a motorcycle, having consumed alcohol,” he said.

In the light of the “disappointing” research results, Mr Finn appealed for cross-party support for his plan to introduce a mandatory ban for those found driving with a BAC of between 50-80mg. Currently such drivers face penalty points but no ban.

Conor Lally

Conor Lally

Conor Lally is Security and Crime Editor of The Irish Times