Motorists are being warned that the Gardai will be out in force targeting drivers under the influence of drink and drugs over the St Patrick’s Weekend, which is traditionally a high risk period for alcohol and drug driving related crashes.
Figures released from the Gardai also show that there has been a 17% increase in the number of arrests for driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs in the first two months of 2019 compared to the same period last year. To date 1,429 drivers have been arrested from 1 January to 28 February.
The Medical Bureau of Road Safety, which analyses the blood and urine specimens of drivers arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence, for the presence of alcohol and drugs, has also reported an increase in the number of specimens being sent for analysis to date this year.
Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Mr. Shane Ross TD, said: "The Road Safety Authority and An Garda Síochána have been warning of the dangers of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs for many years but some motorists continue to ignore them.
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“The introduction of the Road Traffic (Amendment) Act 2018 has increased the penalties for drink driving at lower levels. These penalties apply at any time. Drink driving is drink driving whether it is at midnight or midday and any drink drivers detected with a blood alcohol concentration between 50mg and 80mg now face losing their licence for three months. The aim of road safety legislation is to reduce deaths and serious injuries on our roads”.
Moyagh Murdock, CEO, RSA, said: "If you are heading out this weekend please plan ahead. Make sure you know how you’re getting home, whether by taxi, with a designated driver or public transport. Also don’t walk home if you’re drunk. Almost half of pedestrians killed on our roads have consumed alcohol*. I’m also reminding drivers and passengers to wear seatbelts and to understand that there is a close link between drinking alcohol and the non-wearing of seatbelts in fatality statistics.
Finally a word of caution if you are drinking at home. You may be unknowingly consuming larger measures and therefore increasing the amount of time it will take to eliminate the alcohol from the body and be safe to drive. It takes the average person an hour to get rid of a single unit of alcohol from the body– that’s a half pint, small glass of wine or single measure of spirits. Find out how alcohol can impact your health at the HSE’s website www.askaboutalcohol.ie .”