ARRESTS for drink-driving are down by nearly 20% in Laois so far this year.
Garda figures show 37 people were caught driving while intoxicated in the first three months of this year, down from 46 during the same period in 2017.
However, Chief Superintendent John Scanlan says the fall in arrests is “not to the extent that we should congratulate ourselves”, as some people continue to drive after taking drink or drugs. He added that with more gardaí in the division, people are more likely to be caught and more still needs to be done to change people’s attitude to drink-riving.
Presenting the figures to a Laois Joint Policing Committee (JPC) meeting, the chief superintendent said: “Some people are still doing it and if we had one accident as a result, it would be one too many. We are also seeing more of the use of drugs with driving than we would have historically.”
Welcoming the decrease, cllr Paschal McEvoy said it was the first time since he became a councillor four years ago that there was a fall in drink-driving arrests. He said: “It’s not just because of the number of checkpoints, so maybe people are copping on.”
Deputy Seán Fleming felt the increased number of garda checkpoints was reassuring to people like himself who don’t drink and drive. He was stopped by gardaí three or four times recently and he welcomed more checkpoints on the road.
Garda figures also show a rise of 34.5% in the number of traffic collisions in Laois, from 212 in the first quarter of 2017 to 232 in the first quarter of this year. The number of crashes involving material damage rose by 25%, from 135 in the first quarter of 2017 to 169 this year.
Crashes involving serious injuries fell from five in the first three months of 2017 to four in the same period this year and there was only one fatal collision in both quarters. Crashes involving non-serious injuries fell from 24 in the first three months of 2017 to 20 this year.