Two cars seized at garda checkpoint

Two cars seized at garda checkpoint
Garda Mick Twomey, Anglesea Street, Cork. The Garda traffic unit were out on a mandatory alcohol testing checkpoint in Cork City. Picture Dan Linehan

TWO cars were seized and a man tested positive for drink-driving yesterday at a Mandatory Alcohol Test (MAT) checkpoint on the Blarney Road.

The Evening Echo joined members of Traffic Corps as they carried out a MAT checkpoint at 2pm.

One car was seized for having no tax, insurance or NCT and the other for suspected drink-driving.

Sergeant Jim Delea was on the scene and explained the procedure behind a MAT checkpoint.

We target certain times on certain days as well as having unexpected checkpoints. We do structured and random stops.

Sgt Delea said Cork’s Traffic Corps has a schedule of checkpoints that are all authorised by an inspector or higher.

“Some weeks we have more than others. We do a lot on weekends, spread out between morning and evenings as well as some during the week.”

Garda Iain King, Anglesea Street. The Garda traffic unit were out on a mandatory alcohol testing checkpoint in Cork City. Picture Dan Linehan
Garda Iain King, Anglesea Street. The Garda traffic unit were out on a mandatory alcohol testing checkpoint in Cork City. Picture Dan Linehan

Sgt Delea said having no insurance was a common offence and if a car has no insurance it is seized.

“We have a towing company contracted to take the car to a secure place. The cars are released with a towing charge and a day-by-day rate, depending on how long the car has been kept.”

With regards alcohol and drug testing, Sgt Delea said there are a few clinical symptoms that the gardaí look out for that could possibly indicate a positive alcohol or drug test.

“Usually, their eyes are glazed over, they are unsteady and slurring their words.”

When a person tests positive at a roadside test, they are arrested and brought to the station.

“We use calibrated equipment from the medical bureau of road safety. At the roadside it is just an indicator, we must go back to the station to get an actual reading.”

Sgt Delea said over Christmas in Cork, they made many detections of people that don’t usually drink and drive and were just chancing their arm.

With regards testing for drugs, Sgt Delea said: “The common offences are cocaine, weed and prescription drugs. Depending on conditions we can arrest there and then.”

Garda Iain King and Garda Ray O’Brien, Anglesea Street, Cork. The Garda traffic unit were out on a mandatory alcohol testing checkpoint in Cork City. Picture Dan Linehan
Garda Iain King and Garda Ray O’Brien, Anglesea Street, Cork. The Garda traffic unit were out on a mandatory alcohol testing checkpoint in Cork City. Picture Dan Linehan

Sgt Delea, who has been in the traffic corps since 2007, said as well as drugs and alcohol, speeding and using mobile phones while driving are also common issues. “We catch a lot of people on their phone, I caught a woman today at the Kinsale roundabout, I was in the car beside her and she didn’t even register I was a guard. The risks people take are unbelievable.”

Sgt Delea also said the gardaí are still catching people driving without seatbelts.

“Some people plug the belt into the seat to stop the dinging sound and sit on the belt. The other thing that happens is women put on the belt and then pull down the belt under their arm.”

Despite these issues, road deaths on an annual basis are decreasing.

“I think there is improved awareness,” Sgt Delea said. “We are out and about more than ever and the technology has advanced, meaning we have better equipment.”

Another thing that Sgt Delea mentioned is the effect penalty points can have on your insurance.

“For a few years, it didn’t make a difference, but insurance companies are starting to pay attention now.”

Despite the reduction in road deaths, from 22 in 2016 in Cork to 14 in 2017, Sgt Delea urged people to slow down and take care in the current wintery weather we are experiencing.

“During winter, visibility is bad. Wet roads and icy road are equally dangerous so take your time, belt up and stay off your phone.”

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