Sunday 22 October 2017

Gardai arrest 185 people for driving under the influence of drink or drugs over Bank Holiday weekend

Stock picture
Stock picture

Kathy Armstrong

Gardai arrested 185 people for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs over the four day Bank Holiday weekend.

They revealed today that three of these arrests were people who were tested positive for drugs.

The number of motorists arrested for driving under the influence soared by 48 per cent compared to the Easter Bank Holiday last year.

Testing people for drug-driving was only introduced on Saturday after the provisions under The Road Traffic Bill were passed in December.

For the first time gardai now have equipment to carry out saliva tests on drivers to check if they've consumed cannabis, cocaine or heroine (benzodiazepines, and opiate).

Anyone who tests positive face penalties including jail.

One man - who had already been given a ten year driving ban - tested positive for cocaine on Saturday night.

He was stopped driving along the N4 in West Dublin and will now face court for the drug driving offence, and also for driving while banned.

Read More: Motorist, already banned for 10 years, tests positive for cocaine 'just three hours' after Gardai begin tests

Transport Minister Shane Ross welcomed the legislation and said he expects it will save lives.

He said: "It is estimated that drug driving is a factor in approximately one in 10 fatal crashes.

"The introduction of preliminary drug testing now strengthens the ability of gardaí to tackle the problem."

Driving under the influence of drugs remains a significant problem in Ireland
Driving under the influence of drugs remains a significant problem in Ireland

Read More: New law to clamp down on motorists drug-driving

The Medical Safety Bureau of Road Safety said that the new legislation shouldn't put people off taking their prescribed medicines, so long as it doesn't impair their ability to drive.

Professor Denis Cusack, Director of the MBRS, said: "It is against the law to drive under the influence of drugs, including prescribed drugs, where your driving is impaired to such an extent that you don't have proper control of the vehicle."

"Drivers with medical conditions should continue to take their prescribed medications in accordance with healthcare advice and medical fitness-to-drive guidelines."

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