Gardaí will be cracking down on drink and drug driving this Bank Holiday Weekend, after a worrying spike in drug driving offences this year.
This weekend Gardaí will be conducting nationwide checkpoints, with an increased amount of drug detection equipment issued for roads policing.
“Our job is to protect communities from drink and drug drivers,” Assistant Garda Commissioner Paula Hilman said, “It is totally unacceptable to drive if you have been drinking or taking drugs.”
“This selfish action endangers the lives of all road users, so we are very concerned by the significant increase in the number of Drug-Driving arrests so far this year.”
The number of people arrested for drug driving has more than doubled in the first six months of 2020 compared with last year,
There have been 1,216 people arrested for drug driving offences between January and June this year, compared with 591 in 2019. This despite a 70% reduction in traffic during the COVID-19 lockdown.
This Bank Holiday weekend Garda Roads Policing Units will be focusing on driving under the influence, whether that is drugs or alcohol, at checkpoints around the country.
An analysis of road fatalities between 2013 and 2017 by the Road Safety Authority found that, where a toxicology result was available, a third (35.6%) of drivers killed tested positive for alcohol. 9.8% of drivers killed had cocaine in their system, and 7.4% tested positive for cannabis.
Ms Liz O’Donnell, Chairperson of the RSA, said that since the introduction of roadside screening for drugs in 2017, the “true extent” of the problem has become apparent.
“We have a big problem with drug driving in this country. My message for drivers is to understand that there is no hiding from drug driving any more.
“The gardai can and are detecting drug drivers in increasing numbers on our public roads.”
Galway West TD Hildegarde Naughton, Junior Minister at the Department of Transport said that this data shows that there remains a “cohort of drivers” engaging in dangerous behaviour.
“The incidence of drink and drug driving during the Covid-19 lockdown period, when traffic volumes were at an all-time low, demonstrates the blatant disregard that some drivers have for the law and road safety.”