Drug driving arrests in Cork are now almost on a par with drink driving

Drug driving arrests in Cork are now almost on a par with drink driving

Gardaí in Cork say the number of roadside drug driving detections is almost on a par with the numbers arrested for drink driving. Pic. Robbie Reynolds

DRUG driving detections are rivalling drink driving detections on Cork roads, according to senior gardaí.

The issue is expected to be highlighted at today’s meeting of the Cork County Joint Policing Committee, when statistics relating to drink and drug driving in Cork county will be presented.

Chief Superintendent Con Cadogan, who has responsibility for Cork West division, said: “Drug driving has gone very high.”

He said the number being detected is almost on a par with the numbers arrested for drink driving, with cannabis and cocaine being the most common drugs detected in drivers’ saliva samples.

A roadside drugs test carried out by gardaí last month showing a driver testing positive for cocaine and cannabis. Pic: An Garda Siochána
A roadside drugs test carried out by gardaí last month showing a driver testing positive for cocaine and cannabis. Pic: An Garda Siochána

In recent weeks, gardaí in Cork North revealed that three drug drivers were detected driving with either cocaine or cannabis in their system over one weekend.

Since 2017, gardaí have been able to conduct roadside testing for drug driving.

The mandatory intoxicant checkpoints now see drivers being tested for both alcohol and drugs. The device used in drug testing can detect the presence of cannabis, cocaine, opiates and benzodiazepines in a saliva sample.

Since the introduction of the measures over two years ago, more gardaí have been trained in using the device and more of the devices, called Draeger DrugTest 5000, have been rolled out.

In May, the Medical Bureau of Road Safety outlined that cannabis is the main drug of choice for drivers who flout drug driving laws.

Anyone convicted of drug driving can face a disqualification of up to four years, if their driving has been impaired by drugs including cannabis, cocaine, heroin and prescription drugs.

Penalties also include a fine of up to €5,000 and up to six months in prison.

However, disqualification of a year can also be imposed for driving over the limit for cannabis, cocaine or heroin.

It is also an offence to refuse to give a saliva sample. If a saliva test proves positive for the presence of drugs, a driver is then arrested and taken to a garda station for a blood test.

Last month, the director of MBRS, Denis Cusack, said that alcohol is still the most prevalent intoxicant found in driver samples. Cannabis is second most common, while benzodiazepines are being surpassed by cocaine as the third most prevalent drug.

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