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Minister Paschal Donohoe

Closing loophole on drug driving

New measures to deter and detect driving under the influence of drugs have been announced by Transport Minister, Paschal Donohoe.

In revealing the details of the new legislation, the Minister said, “’We have, as a country, come a long way in recent years in the struggle to improve road safety, and especially to combat drunk driving. However, figures for road deaths last year went up for the first time since 2005, and, unfortunately, this year to date, we have seen a further increase in collisions and deaths compared to the same period in 2013.

“We must keep up the pressure on a range of fronts to reduce these numbers. Road safety depends on a great many factors, and driving while intoxicated is one of the most serious. As a culture, we have moved away from the casual acceptance of drunk driving which once prevailed. However, we still have some way to go if we aspire to eliminating drunk and drug driving, and the measures”

Under the new provisions, the gardaí will have the power to conduct new Intoxication Impairment Tests at the roadside. These tests are non-technological cognitive tests (e.g. touching your nose, walking in a straight line) and international experience has shown that these tests can be sufficiently precise and objective to be used in court.

The new tests will be an important added resource to gardaí in identifying and prosecuting intoxicated drivers and are a significant new tool for the gardaí in enforcing the law against drug driving.

This new procedure closes a loophole and ensures that all drivers involved in serious collisions involving death or serious injury will now be tested for intoxicants.

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Austin Hobbs

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