More than 1,400 caught driving while intoxicated in two months

RSA appeals for vigilance as number of arrests for drink- and drug-driving rises 17%

More than 1,400 people were caught driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs in January and February, a 17 per cent increase on the same period last year.

The increase to 1,429 arrests comes after the introduction of the Road Traffic (Amendment) Act, which provides for an automatic three-month driving ban for first time drink-driving offenders caught with between 50mg and 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood. First-time offenders with readings between those levels previously received fines and penalty points.

Speaking on Friday in Dublin at a bank holiday weekend road safety appeal, Chief Supt Aidan Reid said there would be a beefed up Garda presence on the roads over the coming days. He said there had been a trend in recent years of more people being caught drink-driving over St Patrick's weekend.

“There is still a small number of people taking chances early in the morning,” he said. “We don’t want to be interfering with people’s activities, but if you intend to drive you should not drink or take drugs. We are hoping that people again will comply with our warning.”

A total of 154 motorists were arrested for drink-driving during St Patrick’s weekend last year.

A total of 34 people have been killed on the State’s roads for far this year – an increase of five (17 per cent) on the same period last year, when the lowest number of road fatalities (148) on record happened.

Moyagh Murdock, chief executive of the Road Safety Authority, said people heading out for the weekend should plan ahead and make sure they know how they are getting home.

“Also don’t walk home if you’re drunk. Almost half of pedestrians killed on our roads have consumed alcohol,” she said.