Over half of motorists in fatal crashes not given alcohol test

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From the Irish Independent

FAMILIES of road crash victims have reacted with dismay to figures showing that more than half of all drivers involved in crashes where a person died or was seriously injured were not tested for alcohol.

Susan Gray, chairwoman of Public Against Road Carnage, labelled the statistics a “disgrace”.

Her group will meet Transport Minister Leo Varadkar today where they will demand that more be done to test drivers for alcohol.

Since June of last year gardai have been required to carry out a mandatory breath test for alcohol on drivers involved in crashes where someone died or was seriously injured.

However figures show that from July 1 to December 31 2011, more than half of drivers were not tested.

During this time 107 drivers were recorded as being involved in a fatal collision but 62 were not tested for alcohol.

A number of reasons were given including that the driver was removed to hospital, was fatally injured, or that their identity was not known.

Two of the drivers were not tested because gardai formed the opinion that alcohol was not a contributory factor in the crash.

Meanwhile, 213 drivers were involved in collisions that resulted in serious injuries. Again, more than half — 113 — were not tested. Reasons given included that the drivers were unknown or had already been taken to hospital, that there was “insufficient time” to conduct the test, or that the driver had been arrested.

In 24 cases, gardai had formed the opinion that alcohol was not a contributory factor in the collision.

The figures were supplied by Justice Minister Alan Shatter to Labour Dublin North East TD Tommy Broughan in response to a parliamentary question.

An evidential blood or urine sample must be obtained within three hours of the crash in order to be valid and used in a prosecution.

Gardai don’t have to obtain a breath test if they are of the opinion that the driver should be arrested, or a doctor or nurse refuses to permit the taking of a sample on medical grounds.

– Breda Heffernan

Irish Independent