One in eight drivers drove drunk in past two years, survey finds

Male drivers slightly more likely than female drivers to have driven over alcohol limit

Gardaí will have early-evening, night and “morning-after” checkpoints over the Christmas period. Photograph: Frank Miller

Gardaí will have early-evening, night and “morning-after” checkpoints over the Christmas period. Photograph: Frank Miller

 

One in eight drivers admitted to drink-driving in the past two years, according to a new survey.

The survey of almost 4,000 motorists by AA Insurance, found that 5.69 per cent of respondents said that within the last 24 months they had got behind the wheel while over the blood-alcohol limit on one occasion.

A further 6 per cent admitted to drink-driving on up to five occasions, while just over 1 per cent said they did so on more than five occasions in the past two years.

The survey found that male drivers were slightly more likely to have driven while over the legal limit in the past two years, with 13 per cent of male respondents admitting to do so on at least one occasion, compared with 12 per cent of female drivers.

Conor Faughnan, AA director of consumer affairs, said there was a “significant minority” willing to “risk the safety of other road users rather than behaving responsibly”.

“We’re coming into a busy time on Irish roads as people attend work parties, family gatherings and try to squeeze in their Christmas shopping, so we would urge those who are out at events to plan their journey home in advance and to leave the driving to someone else if you have enjoyed a few drinks,” Mr Faughnan said.

“We all deserve to enjoy the holiday season after a busy year but we must all do so responsibly if we are to keep our roads safe. Struggling to get a taxi or having no public transport option doesn’t mean you have some right to disregard the law and the safety of others just so you can make it home.”

Drivers under 25

The survey also found that just under a quarter of Irish motorists aged between 17 and 24 have driven while over the legal limit in the past two years on at least one occasion, the highest figure of any age group.

Those over 65 were the least likely to have done so, with 10 per cent of motorists in this age bracket admitting to having driven while over the limit.

“Ultimately, while the number of young drivers admitting to drink-driving was disturbingly high, there is no single age bracket here who can claim to be free of this problematic behaviour and it’s on all of us to do a better job of regulating our own behaviour as well as that of any friends or family who we may be attending events with in the weeks ahead,” Mr Faughnan added.

Assistant Garda Commissioner David Sheahan said last week “morning-after” drivers who may still be intoxicated even after sleep would be a key focus of the Christmas anti-drink driving campaign.

He said 150 new gardaí had been assigned to regional roads policing units in 2018 and 85 more would be deployed to the Dublin metropolitan region to operate mandatory intoxicant checks over the holiday period.

A further 117 gardaí will be assigned to the urban centres of Cork, Galway, Limerick, Waterford and Drogheda. In addition the force had secured 20 new, high-visibility vehicles which would be used in mandatory intoxicant checks.

Gardaí will target roads around rural towns and villages, as well as having early-evening, night and “morning-after” checkpoints and would even be operational on Christmas Day.

Tougher penalties for drink-drivers were implemented from October.

Anyone caught with 50-80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood is now disqualified from driving for three months and receives a €200 fine. Previously they would have received three penalty points and a fine for a first offence rather than an automatic ban.