An Garda Síochána has warned drivers not to drink and drive over the festive season. The Gardaí have joined the Road Safety Authority (RSA) in a campaign to warn motorists about the dangers of drink driving. Many drivers are caught out over the Christmas period for driving under the influence and Gardaí are clear that seasonal celebrations are no excuse for dangerous driving.
The warning comes as a new report into the Garda breathalyser scandal shows the depth of the problem facing Gardaí over the next year. The Crowe Harworth Policing Authority Report claims that the integrity of the breath testing system is so compromised, up to 20 percent of drivers will have to be breath-tested next year.
“The harm has been done. I think it had an effect on the number killed on our roads,” said Moyagh Murdock, RSA Chief Executive. “Because the enforcement wasn’t out there – even though the numbers indicated it was happening – I think it led to people taking chances and also believing they wouldn’t get caught”.
Despite the scandal surrounding breath tests, Gardaí have launched their Christmas campaign to deter drink driving and catch those who commit it.
“This [the campaign] will include a focus on Mandatory Intoxicant Testing checkpoints around the country to deter people from drinking and driving,” said Assistant Commissioner Michael Finn of Garda National Roads Policing Bureau. “The Gardaí will not just be targeting drink drivers at night or in the early hours of the morning during the Christmas period, but also during morning rush hour as many drivers could still be over the legal limit if they have been drinking the night before.”
“There has been a 12% increase in drivers arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence up to end of October 2017. While it is disappointing to see so many refusing to heed our advice, this clearly shows that our members are out there enforcing drink driving laws. The consequences of drink driving for you and others could be very serious and range from losing your licence to living with the guilt of being responsible for someone’s death or severe injury. Please don’t take the risk this Christmas – don’t drink and drive.”
“Drink driving at any time of the day is drink driving, that’s why you must take extra care the following morning if you have been drinking the night before, as you may still have alcohol in your system. The morning after is a danger zone for alcohol-related fatal crashes,” Ms. Murdock said.
“If you got to bed in the early hours and didn’t get a good night’s sleep, this will magnify the impairing effects of any alcohol in your system. The only cure is time,” she said.
This year, 143 people have been killed on Irish roads. This is a decrease of 26 people on the same period last year.