Monday 23 April 2018

Drink-drive figures to be reviewed after Garda disbelief

Drink driving
Drink driving

Greg Harkin

The Department of Justice says it is reviewing statistics on drink-drive convictions released earlier this week amid protests from gardaí who have questioned the figures.

Senior gardaí have told the Irish Independent that they do not believe conviction rates are as low as published.

They have asked for a review of the Courts Service figures and how they were compiled.

A spokesman for the Justice Department insisted that, despite the claims, there has been "huge progress in road safety over the past decade with dramatic reductions in deaths and serious injuries".

The spokesman added: "A key component of this progress has been the transformation in public attitudes and driver behaviour when it comes to drink-driving.

"Changes in public opinion have gone hand in hand with strong enforcement measures, including the introduction of mandatory alcohol testing.

"While we know that only a tiny minority of drivers take risks with alcohol and driving, the consequences are potentially devastating."

Confirming a review of the conviction-rate statistics, he added: "The Minister has asked that the figures issued by the Court Service be studied further with a view to establishing if there are further steps that can be taken or lessons learned."

The Irish Independent has learned that just 76 cases involving blood and urine samples were not progressed last year by the Medical Bureau of Road Safety (MBRS). That was just 2.6pc of all such cases, down from 3.5pc in 2013.

The MBRS 2014 report says they were not progressed "because of some defect in the specimen or the documentation accompanying it".

Gardaí say this is more evidence that State agencies are doing their job with just a small number of what one officer called 'mistakes'.

Meanwhile, latest MBRS figures show that half of all those caught drink-driving were twice the legal drink-drive limit.

A report from the forensics body used by gardaí also show that almost one in five of those caught drink-driving were women.

The MBRS report breaks down the statistics behind 8,200 analysis tests carried out by gardaí last year for drink or drug-driving.

The report found that 52.7pc of motorists caught drink-driving were at least twice the legal drink-drive limit, while almost 14pc were found to be four times over the limit.

It also found 35pc of motorists who gave blood samples were below the legal limit while 38pc who gave urine samples were found to be under the limit.

A quarter of motorists over the legal drink-drive limit were aged between 17 and 24, while half of those detected were in the 24-44 age group.

Two-thirds of motorists were tested between 9pm and 6am, 16pc between 4pm and 9pm and the remaining 17pc between 6am and 4pm, but there were 6pc fewer tests than in 2013.

Irish Independent

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