AT least 13 people have been caught driving under the influence of drugs in Cork since Gardaí were given the ability to carry out roadside testing last April.
According to the latest available figures, there are 371 Gardaí in Cork who are trained to carry out the tests, 74 tests have been administered, and 12 have given a positive result. The Gardaí reported the arrest of a man for drug driving on New Year's Eve, bringing the total up to 13.
The figures were released to Fianna Fáil TD for Cork North West Aindrias Moynihan. He was pursuing the figures to see if the rollout of the testing was happening, but said it will be months before a real picture can be seen.
He said that drugs are a factor in up to one in four fatal road accidents, and it's important to ensure that drug drivers are pursued and stopped.
"When you look at road deaths, a huge portion are related to drug driving, and that's aside from drink driving," he said.
He said that the latest figures "sound low" but that it is a new effort.
"It's a new tool that's available to Gardai. It's a new initiative. They have only been in since April, and you would have had Gardaí being trained too," he said.
The units use a mouth swab to test for the presence of cannabis, benzodiazepines, cocaine, and opiates like heroin and morphine. The tests can take between 10 and 20 minutes to produce a result. In the case of a positive result for cannabis or cocaine, which are both illegal, the driver will be arrested and a blood test will be sued to confirm the presence of drugs. Gardaí have room to use their judgement on whether a driver is impaired or not where a test identifies opiates or benzodiazepines, which can be prescribed by doctors.
Gardaí in Fermoy made a drug driving arrest on New Year's Eve. A male driver was arrested after testing positive for both cocaine and cannabis.
The Garda Síochana - Cork, Kerry & Limerick - Southern Region Facebook page used the arrest as a warning for people not to drive after using drugs.
"Please don't be the person responsible for having us contact your family, or someone else's, to give them bad news tonight.
"This man's 2018 is off to a bad start, but maybe a life has been saved.
Make a New Years Resolution. Never drive under the influence of drink or drugs," said a post on the page.