POLL Drink Driving

POLL: Do you think drink-driving laws should be relaxed in rural areas?

Gardaí reveal that a doubling in drunk driving checkpoints in Laois has led to a sharp increase in the number of people caught driving over the limit.

Conor Ganly

Reporter:

Conor Ganly

Road Safety Ambassador Award for Treacy family from Portarlington

Ronan & Gillian Treacy with a picture of their late son Ciarán.

No

77%

Yes

23%

A doubling in drunk driving checkpoints in Laois has led to a sharp increase in the number of people caught driving over the limit.

Garda Superintent Joe Prendergast revealed this week there there were 47 drink driving offences  detected in the last quarter of 2016, as compared to 36 for the last three months of 2015—a 30% rise.

“There’s a very good chance if you are drinking and driving you are going to be caught,” he warned at the Laois Joint Policing Committee meeting in Portlaoise.

He said Gardai in Laois had manned 524 checkpoints in 2016. The number in 2015 was 276,

“I continue to be amazed at drink driving offences,” Cllr Paschal McEvoy told the meeting in County Hall on Monday (Feb 13).

He said the number of offenders detected in the last quarter of 2016 was 30% higher than for the same period in the previous year.

“Maybe the punishment is not enough,” he suggested.

The Minister for Transport Shane Ross announced in recent days that he will bring legislative proposals to Cabinet this week for all drivers convicted of drink-driving to receive a mandatory disqualification from driving.

"Drivers under 44 accounted for 70% of intoxicated drivers in 2015 with 81% of all intoxicated drivers being male. We have not solved that problem," he said.

He said data for 2015 "indicates that 60% of those driving intoxicated were over twice the legal alcohol limit, 20% were three times over the legal limit and 22% were four times over the legal limit".

"There is still an average of 152 drivers arrested under suspicion of driving under the influence every week. Clearly this is simply not acceptable," he added.

Laois was the location for one of the most tragic deaths caused by drink driving in recent years. Ciarán Treacy was aged just 5 when he was killed on April 17 2014 as a result of drink driver.

Finbarr O'Rourke, of Laurel Drive, Portlaoise, crashed head on into the car being driven by Ciarán's mum Gillian Treacy on the evening at Ballymorris in Portarlington. O'Rourke was jailed for causing Ciarán's death. He had drank nine pints of cider before the collision.

Ms Treacy, Ciarán and his seven-year-old brother Seán were returning from the children's grandparents' house at the time. Gillian was badly injured in the smash but Seán suffered no serious injuries.

The Gillian, her husband Ronan their children as well as emergency responders and local people spearheaded the Crashed Lives campaign which was launched by the Road Safety Authority for Christmas 2016.

During a debate on RTÉ's Claire Byrne Live programme this week night, it was argued by studio audience members that stringent penalties like an automatic ban could have a far more negative effect in rural areas than urban areas of the country.

Have you say on our poll, which asks: "Do you think drink-driving laws should be relaxed in rural areas of the country?"