A total of 105 people were arrested for drink driving in Clare so far this year – an increase of 21.
This has prompted an East Clare county councillor to ask if the enforcement level in this area is a “bit over the top”.
At Monday’s meeting of the county’s Joint Policing Committee, Whitegate councillor Pat Burke suggested the idea of breathalysing people at all times of the day was a bit much.
“I don’t know of too many women who are going to schools, collecting their kids, who are drink driving,” he said, adding, “Yet they are being breathalysed.”
He also said he has a friend in his own area who likes to have three or four pints on a Sunday and will walk to and from the pub to do that. He said now, however, that he will no longer go to the pub because he is afraid to drive into work in the morning.
Having received an outline of other crime areas in the county earlier that day, he said the gardaí apply a certain discretion and have a tolerance level for certain crimes, such as having no tax and speeding offences.
“To me, they are the bigger criminal,” he said.
Councillor Burke said this past week he drove from Tarbert and from Navan on two separate occasions and the only place he encountered a checkpoint was when he came into his own county.
“I think it’s a bit over the top,” he said.
Chief Superintendent Kerin responded, “The gardaí do not create the laws, legislators create them – we are there to enforce them. With drink driving, there is no tolerance. “
He said that drivers are not randomly pulled over; there is typically a reason why someone would be pulled over and breathalysed, such as erratic driving behaviour.
“My heart goes out to those with no access to taxi services. We all have difference tolerance levels for alcohol and, if someone is having three or four pints and is getting six to seven hours’ sleep, it should be gone out of their system by morning. You have got to be careful but, if you are drinking until 2am and think you are ok to drive six or seven hours later, you are not.
“Everyone has to educate themselves, it is not acceptable and not tolerable to drink and drive. We don’t have a choice. If we let someone drink and drive and they kill someone down the road, it’s the gardaí who will be in trouble. We are obliged to arrest those found to be drink driving and enforce that legislation,” he said.