Intoxicated driving arrests on rise since breath test scandal

More people were arrested for driving under influence in April than any month since 2012

More people were arrested for suspected driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol in April this year than any month since 2012, Garda traffic statistics show.

A total of 903 drivers were arrested for suspected driving while intoxicated in April, a 26 per cent increase compared to the number of arrests in March.

The number of people arrested for suspected driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs in the first four months of this year increased by 17 per cent compared to figures from the same time in 2016.

In the first four months of this year, 2,902 drivers were arrested for suspected driving while intoxicated, compared to 2,478 drivers arrested for driving under the influence from January to April in 2016.

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The jump comes after gardaí rolled out new roadside drug-driving tests on April 12th, which it is believed, contributed to the high-number of intoxication arrests in April . The new tests analyse the driver’s saliva at the roadside for the presence of drugs.

Disappointing

Previously someone suspected of driving under the influence of drugs had to be taken to a Garda station to provide a urine or blood sample, which was then sent to the Medical Bureau of Road Safety lab to be tested.

A spokeswoman for the Road Safety Authority (RSA) said “while it’s disappointing to see that there are people still prepared to take a chance and get behind the wheel after drinking alcohol, it certainly sends out a clear message that the gardaí are out there enforcing our driving laws”.

Figures obtained by Tommy Broughan TD from a parliamentary query show 725 drivers tested positive for drugs last year.

The most prevalent drug detected was cannabis, followed by benzodiazepines. Of the drivers who tested positive for drug-driving in 2016, 91 per cent were male and most were aged between 17 and 44 years old.

In total 8,067 people were arrested by gardaí last year for driving under the influence of either alcohol or drugs last year.

Jack Power

Jack Power

Jack Power is a reporter with The Irish Times