Tuesday 25 September 2018

Revealed: How often gardaí have conducted new drug-driving test at checkpoints

Garda crackdown. Stock picture
Garda crackdown. Stock picture
Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

Just 1pc of Garda checkpoints conducted over a nine-month period involved a new screening test for suspected drug driving.

Yet since new Road Traffic Act regulations came into force last April, one in seven tests conducted on motorists has been positive for suspected use of drugs such as cocaine, cannabis and opiates.

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan confirmed to Tommy Broughan TD that of 52,395 mandatory intoxicant tests (MIT) conducted since April 13, a mere 612 were for the new drug screening test.

A startling total of 90 gave a preliminary positive for the suspected use of drugs – a failure rate of almost 15pc.

Over the nine months, the rate of positive detections increased by 700pc.

Road safety campaigners have demanded greater resources for the Garda traffic corps amid fears drug driving is set to prove as deadly as drink driving.

PARC road safety founder Susan Gray expressed “deep concern” that a mere 1pc of tests conducted at checkpoints involved the new oral fluid sampling.

She also queried whether a failure rate of 15pc indicated a vastly bigger problem with drug driving than initially feared.

Meanwhile, a mother who lost her son in a horrific accident caused by a driver who had consumed both drink and drugs called for greater Garda resources to crack down on motorists.

Christina Donnelly admitted she was “horrified” at the failure rate.

She lost her son Brendan (24) on October 26, 2009 in a head-on collision caused by a driver who had consumed both drink and drugs.

Irish Independent

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