Home > Dail Eireann debate. Written answer 22 - Garda operations [44192/17] [Drug driving].

[Oireachtas] Dail Eireann debate. Written answer 22 - Garda operations [44192/17] [Drug driving]. (19 Oct 2017)

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22. Deputy Aindrias Moynihan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of gardaí in each of the Cork divisions who had been trained and in a position to test for drug driving when the new test was introduced in April 2017; the number of gardaí available at the end of April, May, June, July, August and September 2017; the number of tests that have been carried out in each Cork division; and the number of positive results identified by those dates. [44192/17]


Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): I have sought the information requested by the Deputy from An Garda Síochána and will contact the Deputy directly on receipt of a Garda report in relation to these statistics.


While An Garda Síochána has been testing Irish drivers for drugs, with the assistance of the Medical Bureau of Road Safety (MBRS), since 1999, the Deputy will be aware that my colleague, the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, commenced the drug driving provisions in the Road Traffic Act 2016 on 12 April 2017. One of the key measures in the legislation provides for Preliminary Drug Testing, which enables Gardaí to test motorists at the roadside, whom they suspect of driving under the influence of drugs, and An Garda Síochána can now establish roadside checkpoints, known as Mandatory Impairment Checkpoints (MITs), to test drivers for the presence of both alcohol and drugs.


The new drug testing devices (Dräger DrugTest 5000) involve testing a sample of a driver’s oral fluid (saliva) for the presence of cannabis, cocaine, opiates (e.g. heroin, morphine) and benzodiazepines (e.g. valium). The new devices will also be available in Garda stations. The MBRS has found that of the 3,020 specimens of blood and urine that it received in 2016, 24% confirmed positive for drugs other than alcohol. Of these, 91% were specimens from male drivers, most of whom were in the 17-44 year age range. Cannabis was the most prevalent drug detected, followed by benzodiazepines.


Earlier this year, the MBRS went to tender for new preliminary breath testing equipment and it is hoped that all stages of the process will be completed by early 2018. New equipment, which is available in the market place, has the capacity to record the time, GPS location and number of persons breath-tested, and has the capacity to download the information automatically, reducing the chances of errors occurring in the data.


To support the introduction of Preliminary Drug Testing, the Road Safety Authority ran a number of campaigns this year to raise awareness of the new Garda drug-testing powers.

It is estimated that drug driving is a factor in approximately one in ten fatal crashers. Drug driving not only puts the driver at risk but also passengers and other road users. The introduction of Preliminary Drug Testing this year strengthens the ability of Gardaí to tackle drug driving and I am committed to supporting this important statutory enforcement provision in my role as Minister for Justice and Equality.

Item Type
Dail Debates
Publication Type
Drug Type
Substances (not alcohol/tobacco)
Intervention Type
Crime prevention, Policy
19 October 2017

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