New figures show that just 40% of drink-drive cases since 2013 led to convictions
The Road Safety Authority (RSA) has said it is concerned and disappointed at the low level of drink-driving convictions. New figures published today show only 40% of drink-driving cases before the country’s district courts since January 2013 resulted in convictions.
Between January 2013 and May 2015 more than 20,000 individuals were due before district courts for drink driving, however just over 6,700 or 40% were convicted. The highest conviction rate was in Offaly at 68% while Co Kerry had the lowest conviction rate at 29%.
The RSA has said this is a matter for the Department of Justice and the courts. The figures from the Department of Justice were supplied to Road Safety campaign group PARC, through a parliamentary question tabled by Independent TD Tommy Broughan.
Former state solicitor for Donegal Ciaran MacLochlainn, who is now a defence solicitor has said he is not surprised at the low rate of convictions, stating that a number of factors are in play during a prosecution. Speaking to RTE he said there are a lot of technicalities in drink-driving law and there is plenty of room for challenge.
Mr MacLochlainn compared a drink-driving case to a hurdle race, saying “there are about ten hurdles to get over and if a guard hits any of the hurdles the case will collapse. If, as invariably happens, you have a young inexperienced guard giving evidence he can sometimes hit a hurdle and down will go the case.”
When asked about the difference in conviction rate between the UK and Ireland, he said that he could not speak for the UK but that he has found that lawyers in Northern Ireland are less likely to challenge drink-driving prosecutions.