The Gardaí crack down on drink driving offenders has been notorious in the past few years. There are an increased number of check points all over the country and better methods of taking readings. However, if you expect conviction rates for those caught to be soaring, you are mistaken.
It is worth noting that the conviction rate in England and Wales is 97% for offenders brought to Court on a drink driving charge. In Ireland only 28% of offenders were convicted in the first five months of 2015. While the figures change depending on the jurisdiction, in some jurisdictions not a single conviction was handed down for drink driving offences and the highest conviction rate was merely 68%. However The Court Service has replies and stated that the commentary on the conviction rates as been inaccurate due to the extrapolation of conviction rates from the wrong set of figures and that the correct conviction rate is between 85% and 88%. My own view is that the Court Service view is correct. There are very few defences to drink driving. Any defences that are used successfully are soon closed down by new legislation.
In general if you are convicted for a drink driving offence there is a €300 fine and a 6 month upward disqualification once you have not been convicted of any other offence in the previous 5 years.
However, the legislation has been problematic for both Courts and citizens to understand. One such example comes from the recent High Court case which ruled that the results of breathalyser tests will have to be printed in both Irish and English for the offender in order to be admissible in Court as evidence. This case may stop a number of convictions being handed down in the months to come due to the loophole in the legislation.
The PARC association which raises awareness for road safety has asked the Minister for Justice to consider correcting the legislation to make it easier to understand and to remove many of the issues with loopholes. Up to recently the legislation was efficient and suitable, and it is hoped lapses in prosecution will be fixed soon.