independent advocate reducing alcohol harm

Alcohol and driving

Despite strict laws around drink driving in Ireland, alcohol remains a significant road safety issue on our roads.

Research from the Road Safety Authority looking at road fatalities and alcohol between the years of 2013 and 2017 found that 39% of driver fatalities had a positive toxicology for alcohol.

The report Road Deaths and Alcohol 2013-2017 focuses on road user fatalities who had a positive toxicology for alcohol at the time of the collision.

The research reveals that, of the 600 road user fatalities with a toxicology result available:

  • 39% of driver fatalities had a positive toxicology for alcohol.
  • Young men significantly overrepresented in road user fatalities with a positive toxicology for alcohol.
  • Almost two-thirds of road user fatalities with a positive toxicology for alcohol, took place Saturday – Monday.
  • 8,159 drivers arrested for driving while intoxicated in 2020


The report is an update of previous RSA research on alcohol and road fatalities between 2008 and 2012. In that study, alcohol consumption was also a significant issue and a factor in 38% of all deaths – with this figure rising to 75% at the off-peak hours of 10pm to 6am.

The reports demonstrate that there has been no improvement between 2008 and 2017 in the numbers of people dying on our road where alcohol is a factor.

Further research by the Road Safety Authority published in 2019 found that 75% of fatalities between the hours of 10pm and 6am (off-peak) had a positive toxicology for alcohol.

This review of road users killed late at night and in the early hours of the morning showed that young males were over represented, making up 87% of drivers, 73% of passengers and 87% of pedestrians killed on Irish roads between 10pm and 6am


Drink-driving limits

Even in small amounts, alcohol impairs driving ability and as blood alcohol concentration (BAC) increases and the functioning of vital processes for safe road use, such as vision and motor skills, becomes increasingly impaired. In short, any amount of alcohol increases the risk of involvement in a road traffic collision.

While the introduction of random breath testing and the lowering of the drink-driving limits have improved road safety in Ireland, drink-driving remains a significant issue.

A survey of driver attitudes conducted on behalf of the RSA in 2015 found that:

  • 284,000 drivers, or 1 in 10, admitted to consuming alcohol before driving in the past 12 months.
  • Of those who admitted to drink driving, almost 2 out of 5 said they had consumed two or more drinks.
  • The incidence of alcohol consumption among drivers is much higher among males, those who drive for work and those who have had a collision/near miss in recent years.


Follow this link for further information on alcohol and driving, including the legal limits in Ireland.

To find out more about drink-driving and wider road safety issues please visit the Road Safety Authority”s website.