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Saturday 23 August 2014

More than 800 drink-driving arrests over Christmas period

Published 21/01/2014 | 16:39

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Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport Leo Varadkar
A Garda checkpoint sign

Some 805 drivers were arrested during the Christmas period on suspicion of driving while drunk, according to gardai.

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Some 44,000 breath tests were carried out on Irish drivers at more than 8,000 mandatory alcohol testing checkpoints.

Eleven people were arrested on Christmas Day for drink-driving and 45 were arrested on New Year's Day.

An average of twenty two people were arrested each day for drink-driving

There were 21 road deaths over the Christmas period - which spanned from December 1 to January 5.

In total, 190 people were killed on Irish roads last year, which represented an increase of 28 on 2012.

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Leo Varadkar spoke on the Road Traffic (No. 2) Bill 2013 in Seanad Éireann today, saying that it is hoped measures in the new bill will drive down the number of road fatalities and accidents.

The Minister said: "After years in which the numbers killed on roads were dropping, in 2013 road deaths totalled 190, an increase of 28 on the previous year’s figures."

"However, serious injuries in the year, at 468, were down by 25 on 2012.  This was the eighth successive year in which serious injuries figures were reduced," he said.

Mr Varadkar said the lowering of legal alcohol limits and the introduction of mandatory alcohol testing checkpoints have helped to reduce drink driving on our roads.

"We need to encourage a higher concern for personal safety and for the safety of those with whom we share the road.  A good example, I believe, is the change in recent years in attitudes to drink driving," he said.

"Drink driving was once regarded by too many as a harmless activity; nowadays, it is widely, and rightly, socially unacceptable," he said. 

Under Part Two of the Bill, he said he is introducing "important enhancements" to the driver licensing regime.

"Ireland has for some time been committed to introducing a Graduated Driver Licensing System," he said.

"This is a stepped approach to driver learning, which is designed to enhance the learning process and contribute to greater road safety.  It is intended to refocus driver learning away from simply passing a test and onto the acquisition of skills and experience."

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