Minister Donohoe introduces new measures to combat drug and drunk driving

27th November, 2014

The Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Paschal Donohoe TD today (Thursday) announced the latest measures to deter and detect driving under the influence of drugs. Minister Donohoe signed Regulations that give effect to the provisions of the Road Traffic Act 2014 in relation to roadside impairment testing.
Speaking today, the Minister said: ‘We have, as a country, come a long way in recent years in the struggle to improve road safety, and especially to combat drunk driving.  However, figures for road deaths last year went up for the first time since 2005, and, unfortunately, this year to date, we have seen a further increase in collisions and deaths compared to the same period in 2013. We must keep up the pressure on a range of fronts to reduce these numbers.  Road safety depends on a great many factors, and driving while intoxicated is one of the most serious.  As a culture, we have moved away from the casual acceptance of drunk driving which once prevailed.  However, we still have some way to go if we aspire to eliminating drunk and drug driving, and the measures I am announcing today will make an important contribution to achieving that end goal’.


New provisions being announced include:

Intoxication Impairment Testing

Under the new provisions, the Gardaí will have the power to conduct new Intoxication Impairment Tests at the roadside.  These tests are non-technological cognitive tests (e.g. touching your nose, walking in a straight line) and international experience has shown that these tests can be sufficiently precise and objective to be used in court. That is now what will happen in Ireland.


The new tests will be an important added resource to Gardaí in identifying and prosecuting intoxicated drivers and are a significant new tool for the Gardaí in enforcing the law against drug driving.


Testing of incapacitated drivers following serious road traffic collisions

The law against drunk driving has been strengthened in recent years, with the introduction of lower blood alcohol limits and Mandatory Alcohol Testing – MAT – checkpoints.  In addition, a new procedure comes into effect under which it will be possible to take a specimen of blood from a driver who is incapacitated following a road traffic collision, and to test that specimen for intoxicants.  Up to now this has not been possible, as a driver has, in law, the option of consenting or refusing to provide a specimen. Under the new procedure, the driver will be asked, on regaining capacity, whether they consent to the issuing of a certificate of the test result on the specimen.  Refusal will be an offence.


This new procedure closes a loophole and ensures that all drivers involved in serious collisions involving death or serious injury will now be tested for intoxicants.


Detailed guidelines on the new procedures for testing incapacitated drivers may be found on the website of the Medical Bureau of Road Safety:


Minister Donohoe will be in attendance at the RSA Garda Christmas and New Year Road Safety Campaign launch this afternoon at 12pm at the Fitzgerald Chamber at UCD.