Double the number of drug-driving arrests in first six months of 2020

There were double the number of arrests for drug-driving in the first six months of 2020 compared to the same period last year.

Some 1,216 arrests were made by gardaí from January to June of this year, despite a 70 per cent reduction in traffic volumes.

That is compared to 591 in the same period in 2019, which represents a 106 per cent increase in drug driving arrests.

Also 83 people have been killed on the roads in the first half of the year, compared to 78 in the same period in 2019.

Road Safety Authority chairperson Liz O'Donnell said gardaí will have an increased number of checkpoints this August bank holiday weekend:

"It is very worrying and that is why were are increasing the enforcement. The Garda Siochana are very well resourced this year and this weekend in particular.

"They have 41 extra machines at the roadside and that brings the total up to 124 machines. There will be mandatory testing of motorists all around the country this weekend.

"The number of detections being made, and the number of specimens being analysed is also revealing the true extent of the problem. We have a big problem with drug driving in this country."

Illicit drugs

According to new data from the RSA, overall there has been a 17 per cent increase in "Driving Under Influence" specimens analysed in first six months of 2020.

Some of the data included:

  • 41 additional drug testing devices to be used at checkpoints
  • 6.5% increase in blood and urine specimens analysed during Covid-19 ‘Lockdown’, despite 70% decrease in traffic volumes
  • A third of drivers killed tested positive for alcohol
  • Cocaine and cannabis most common illicit drugs detected in drivers killed

Hildegarde Naughton, Minister of State at the Department of Transport, said: “The data on drink and drug driving highlights the fact that despite improvements in road safety we continue to see a cohort of drivers engage in risky 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.”