805 arrested in Christmas drink-drive crackdown
ELEVEN motorists were arrested by gardai on Christmas Day for drink-driving offences, "alarming" statistics show. A further 45 were detected for similar offences on New Year's Day.
Statistics published by the gardai were described by the head of the garda national traffic bureau, Assistant Commissioner John Twomey, as alarming.
The figures yesterday also showed that over a 36-day Christmas traffic enforcement campaign, from December 1 to January 5, more than 44,000 people were breathalysed at MAT (mandatory alcohol testing) checkpoints, resulting in 805 drivers being arrested.
Also detected were 17,559 speeding offences; 522 incidents of non-wearing of seatbelts; 1,708 illegal uses of mobile phones and 243 dangerous driving incidents.
The Assistant Commissioner said: "It is totally unacceptable that some people continue to drink and drive.
"Even on Christmas Day, when families should be enjoying each other's company, 11 were arrested for drink driving. These people put themselves and others at significant risk.
"They may now face considerable penalties, which could easily have been avoided had they heeded the many safety messages that have gone out, particularly as part of this campaign," he added.
Expressing disappointment at the increase of road fatalities from 162 to 190 in 2013 after successive years of reductions, Mr Twomey said gardai and their partner agencies would use all available resources to make the roads as safe as possible.
Meanwhile, Garda Derek Cloughley of the traffic bureau said they were seeking a change of culture and wanted to encourage people to alter their attitude and behaviour.
A campaign of enforcement would continue throughout 2014 but they also wanted an educational programme that ran from the cradle to the grave, he added.
The figures also revealed there were 78,290 MAT checkpoints last year, compared with 71,624 in 2012.
But the number of detected incidents of driving while intoxicated was down from 9,527 to 7,962 last year.
Fatal collisions were up from 152 to 182; serious injury collisions were also up from 300 to 318; but dangerous driving detections were down from 4,339 to 3,438.
Speeding detections were down from 225,041 to 205,491; seatbelt offences decreased from 13,834 to 11,840 and mobile phone detections from 30,783 to 28,087.
So far this year, there have been a total of 4,397 MAT checkpoints, resulting in 23,101 breath tests and 377 drivers detected as being under the influence of drink.