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Suspected drink driver escaped arrest because garda wasn't allowed turn on sirens

A garda patrol team was on duty in west Dublin last week when the incident happened.

Image: Sam Boal via RollingNews.ie

A SUSPECTED DRUNK driver was able to evade garda detection last week because the garda member driving the patrol car was not authorised to use the siren or drive at high speeds, TheJournal.ie has learned. 

A garda patrol team was on duty in west Dublin last week when a call came through informing them of a suspected case of drink driving.

However, the two members in the vehicle were only qualified to a basic level of garda driving – known as Competency Based Driver Level 1 (CBD1).

Gardaí who complete a one-day CBD1 assessment may drive patrol cars, but they have to sign a document promising not to exceed the speed limit at any time and that they will not turn on their sirens or flashing lights.

CBD2 is the higher qualification which allows garda members to pursue vehicles at high speeds, use the sirens and turn on the flashing blue lights.

In this case, when one of the gardaí spotted the driver, he radioed to control to let them know that he had caught up with the alleged drink driver. The garda then asked control for another car to assist them as they were CBD1 and could not turn on the sirens. 

In the time that the car had radioed back to control for help, the driver had spotted gardaí and had sped off. The garda car was not allowed exceed the speed limit and the driver managed to escape. 

The CBD issue has been on the agenda for the Garda Representative Association (GRA) for several years and the association said the push for movement in this area “has fallen on deaf ears”.

The Policing Authority, the nation’s garda oversight body, has also been vocal on the driving issue. 

In its latest report, it said: “It continues to frustrate the authority that the training of drivers has not been included as an organisational priority.

“Out of 26 sworn members in one Garda unit the Authority visited, only one had sufficient training to drive in emergency situations.

“A further two had the very basic level of CBD driver training which would allow them to drive a service vehicle, but not respond to emergencies or engage in high speed pursuits, leaving 23 sworn members unqualified to drive the vehicle.”

The Policing Authority said the lack of qualified drivers is causing massive problems in response times to incidents.

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