Thursday 19 April 2018

Courts claim drink-driving reports are 'inaccurate'

Checkpoint: gardaí on patrol
Checkpoint: gardaí on patrol

Robin Schiller

The Courts Service has strongly refuted reports claiming that only 40pc of drink-driving cases in the country's District Courts since 2013 have resulted in a conviction.

A newspaper report stated that data released by the Department of Justice showed that Irish drink-driving convictions rates were significantly lower than the 97pc conviction rate in the UK.

However, the Irish Courts Service has hit out at the report, describing the "inaccuracies" as being a result of the extrapolation of conviction rates from the wrong set of figures.

A spokesman for the Courts Service said that the average conviction rates over the last three years were in fact between 85pc and 88pc.

"The simple error people made in commenting on recent figures was made by comparing convictions to summonses requested, printed and issued - and then comparing them to UK figures - which related to cases heard and finalised, not the number of summonses in the system at one stage or another," he said.

"The figures previously released via a Parliamentary Question were a response to the request for total summonses processed and lists of orders made. The answer did not provide numbers for fully heard and decided-upon cases.

"It is therefore inaccurate to extrapolate conviction rates from such figures, as the courts have not heard many of them," the spokesman added.

The Courts Service said that in the two years and seven months to July 31, 2015, district courts had finalised and made decisions in 11,237 drink driving cases and convicted in 9,714.

The conviction rate in that period was 86pc.

In that 31-month period, a total of 9,133 people were disqualified from driving while 8,313 were fined.

A further 307 people were sent to prison and 450 had suspended sentences imposed. It is possible for more than one order to be made in each case.

Finalised figures for 2013 show that Dublin District Court heard the highest number of drink-driving cases, with a total of 1,080 and a conviction rate of 83pc.

Of these, 186 were dismissed, while 824 people were disqualified. Some 683 fines, 38 prison sentences and 79 suspended sentences were handed down.

The highest conviction rate of just over 97pc was in Athlone District Court, where 44 drink driving cases were heard and finalised in 2013.

One case was dismissed, 40 drivers were disqualified, 37 fines, one prison sentence and three suspended sentences were handed down.

In Cork District Court, 365 drink-driving cases were heard and finalised in 2013. Some 25 cases were dismissed, 328 drivers were disqualified, 303 fines were handed down as well as 12 prison sentences and 17 suspended sentences. The conviction rate was 93pc.

Irish Independent

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