We need your help now

Support from readers like you keeps The Journal open.

You are visiting us because we have something you value. Independent, unbiased news that tells the truth. Advertising revenue goes some way to support our mission, but this year it has not been enough.

If you've seen value in our reporting, please contribute what you can, so we can continue to produce accurate and meaningful journalism. For everyone who needs it.

John Giles/PA Wire/Press Association Images
Road Safety

Number of people caught drink driving drops by half in five years

Males aged 23-32 were the main group arrested for drink driving, and gardaí also noticed an increase in people detected driving ‘the morning after’.

THERE WERE HALF the amount of people caught drink driving in 2012 compared to 2007, following the introduction of lower drink driving limits.

That is according to the latest statistics from An Garda Síochána, which comes in a year where 153 people have tragically lost their lives on Irish roads to date. That is 22 less than in 2011, and if this downward trend continues, gardaí believe we are on course to achieve another record low in 2012 in terms of road safety.


Since 2007 there has been a steady decline in the number of people arrested for drink driving. The rate of detection in 2007 was approximately 1 in 25 (19,848), while the rate of detection year to date in 2012 is approximately 1 in 49 (8,747).

As of 30 November 2012, the number of mandatory alcohol testing checkpoints performed has increased by 3 per cent compared to this period in 2011.

The Garda Síochána Analysis Service carried out a review of the lower drink driving limits, from 28 October 2011- 27 October 2012.

It found:

  • There were 9,771 drink driving incidents detected during this period.
  • Of those, a total of 1,260 fixed charge notices were issued for drink driving
  • 299 (24 per cent) were for specified drivers in the BAC (blood alcohol concentration) range 21 to 80 mg/ml
  • 620 (49 per cent) were for non- specified drivers in the BAC range 51 to 80 mg/ml
  • 341 (27 per cent) were for non- specified drivers in the BAC range 81 to 100 mg/ml

Male drivers

Although there has been a decline in the number of arrests in all but one age group category (females aged 58-67), a significant number of drink driving cases involved a male driver, between 23-32 driving late at night or early morning, particularly at weekends, with a BAC higher than 100mg/100ml.

Offenders aged 38-47 tended to have the highest proportion of >150mg/100ml BAC levels, with nearly half of all drivers detected in this age group having a BAC level above this.

There has been an increase in the number of people detected driving the “morning after”, particularly on a Sunday around 11am. The BAC levels of these people tend to be in the lower ranges, said the gardaí.

Assistant Commissioner Gerard Phillips said that based on the results, they will be particularly focusing on the group being arrested at night and over the weekend.

Repeat offenders

A review of recidivist (repeat offender) drink drivers from 1 January 2008 to 23 September 2012 was also carried out.

It identified 61,874 drink driving incidents, with 48,202 offenders linked to 48,202 individual drink driving offences. A further 5,852 offenders were linked to the remaining 13,672 offences.

  • There were five offenders with 10 or more offences detected
  • There was one individual linked to 26 drink driving offences.
  • There were another 145 offenders linked to 5-9 incidents of drink driving.

A total of 86 per cent of the drink driving offences were committed by males, with 14 per cent committed by females. Males also had a higher probability of being repeat offenders, with 23.1 per cent of the offences committed by male offenders linked to repeat offenders.

In total, 34,680 (72 per cent) of the drink driving offences were committed by Irish nationals. A relatively large share of Lithuanians and Latvians drink drivers (34.2 per cent and 34.4 per cent respectively) were linked to two or more offences.

The majority of drink driving offences were committed by offenders between the age of 22 and 36, with 23 per cent of the offenders in these age categories linked to two or more offences since January 2008.

Assistant Commissioner Gerard Phillips said:

We wish to send out a very strong message that drinking and driving is totally unacceptable, and these selfish drivers cause carnage and heartbreak on our roads. We will particularly focus on this offence for the Christmas and New Year period.

Noel Brett, Chief Executive, Road Safety Authority, welcomed the Garda reports.

However, we must not think that we have cracked the problem of drink driving on our roads. While a minority, there is still a group of drivers out there who are intent on putting their lives and others at risk by drink driving. Many in this group are repeat offenders, and new measures are required to deal with this high risk group, which will be outlined in the new Road Safety Strategy, to be launched next year.

Read: Over half-a-million breath tests carried out by Gardaí in 2011>

Your Voice
Readers Comments
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.