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5,852 roadside drug and alcohol tests were conducted by gardaí. Sasko Lazarov
road stats

Gardaí arrested over 200 people for driving while intoxicated over Bank Holiday weekend

Drug-driving detections increased by over 55% when compared to the last October Bank Holiday period.

OVER 200 PEOPLE were arrested on Irish Roads by Gardaí for driving under the influence of drink or drugs over the October Bank Holiday period.

A garda operation, which began at 7am on 26 October and concluded at 7am on 1 November, led to the arrest of 211 people for driving under the influence of an intoxicant. 

During the same period, two fatalities and nine serious collisions took place which resulted in nine people receiving serious and life-threatening injuries.

“To date this year, 157 people have died on Irish roads. That is 34 more lives lost than this time last year,” a spokesperson for Gardaí said.

On Monday, a Garda inspector told RTÉ News that 56 people were arrested on suspicion of driving while under the influence in a 24-hour period.

Gardaí said today that the number of motorists detected as driving under the influence of drugs increased by over 55% when compared to the last October Bank Holiday Weekend.

Speaking on the number of arrests, Sinn Féin TD and party-spokesperson for Transport Martin Kenny said when resources are in place, “those who put themselves and other road-users in danger can be caught and brought to justice”.

Over the operation’s duration, Gardaí carried out 949 Mandatory Intoxicant Testing checkpoints and 5,852 roadside drug and alcohol tests were conducted. All 211 arrests were as a result of these tests, with 41 of the arrests taking place between 6am and 2pm.

A total of 1,973 drivers were detected for speeding over the weekend, with gardaí detected speeds as high as 130km/h taking place in a 50km/h zone in Limerick.

Other high speeds included: 

• 128km/h in a 60km/h zone on the Stillorgan Road, Blackrock, Dublin
• 147km/h in a 80km/h zone on the R178 Redbog, Carrickmacross, Louth
• 166km/h in a 100km/h zone on the N26 Ballynahaglish, Ballina, Mayo
• 203km/h in a 120km/h zone on the M8 Ballinaglanna North, Kilworth, Cork

Gardaí seized 425 vehicles over the bank holiday, 81 were driven by unaccompanied learner permit holders, 168 were uninsured and 176 had no tax.

This news comes after it was announced last week that the number of people who have died on Irish roads this year has since exceeded last year’s figure.

A total of 157 people died on Ireland’s roads last year and figures from An Garda Síochána reveal that this figure has already been equalled with more than two months to go before the end of the year.

This means that the number of fatalities is almost one-third higher (31.3%) than it was at this time last year.

Speaking on the number of arrests in the last 24 hours, Kenny said: “But my fear is that figure is only the tip of the iceberg.”

“We have seen Garda numbers reduce across the board and many communities are feeling the impact of that but we are particularly seeing it when it comes to policing our roads.”

He added: “There were 1046 Gardaí working in our roads-policing units in 2009 but last month that figure had fallen as low as 655. The government is discussing introducing new road safety legislation, and I of course accept that improved legislation may be needed.”

Junior minister for Transport Jack Chambers told the RTÉ this month that he has spoken with justice minister Helen McEntee to put forward new procedures to strengthen enforcement and visibility of road policing units.

Chambers noted that the further recruitment into the road policing unit will play a “clear role” in helping to improve the visibility of gardaí.

Kenny said “we need to get real here if we want to be serious about road safety”.

“The biggest impediment to reducing the number of deaths on our roads is the failure to adequately resource roads-policing units,” he added.

A spokesperson for An Garda Síochána told The Journal last month: “As recruitment in An Garda Síochána continues and increases capacity to replace members from Roads Policing Units who have moved on promotion and internal transfer will be facilitated.”

Today, Kenny said: “There need to be genuine deterrents and penalties for those who put themselves and other road-users at risk. That will not happen without properly-resourced road policing units.”

Chambers was speaking to RTÉ as he was announcing new measures, which are making their way through the Dáil, that would see the number of penalty points increase during bank holiday periods.

Other fixed charge offences over the October Bank Holiday operation period included 288 for mobile phone use, 110 for unaccompanied learner drivers and 76 drivers who were not wearing a seatbelt.

The Minister of State for Transport introduced the Road Traffic Measures Bill 2023 with cabinet ministers on 17 October. The introduction of the bill into law would see the number of penalty points to increase during specific times when road safety risks are higher.

Data from Ireland has shown a higher number of road deaths and serious injuries occur during bank holiday weekends, with a total of 46 fatal or serious injuries taking place over the February, June and August bank holiday weekends this year.

In the same period, over 10,000 motorists were caught speeding and 340 people were arrested for drink-driving.

Other proposals in the Bill include a change to intoxicant testing rules whereby gardai would be mandatorily required to test for drugs at the scene of road collisions.

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