Dáil Éireann - Volume 555 - 17 October, 2002

Written Answers. - Road Traffic Offences.

  160. Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the statistical information relating to the use of drugs by motorists; his proposals to further evaluate this threat to public safety; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18753/02]

  Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform (Mr. McDowell): I am informed by the Garda authorities that where a person is suspected of driving or being in charge of a mechanically propelled vehicle while under the influence of an intoxicant, including a drug, the Garda arranges for a sample of breath, blood or urine to be taken. The local Garda superintendent may then make a request to have the blood or urine sample analysed for drugs by the medical bureau of road safety which has responsibility for the analysis and certification of samples, as this is not capable of being performed at Garda Síochána stations. The bureau is also responsible for advancing research in this area.

  Statistics in relation to prosecutions and convictions are not disaggregated according to the type(s) of intoxicant involved. However, I am informed by the Garda authorities that the numbers of samples sent to the medical bureau of road safety for drug analysis during the years 1996 to 2000 are as follows:

Year

Number of Samples Sent for Drug Analysis

1996

16

1997

24

1998

32

1999

50

2000

76

[1229] The influence of drugs on driving behaviour is one of the issues under consideration in the Government's strategy on road safety. The Government will continue to monitor and assess any developments in this area, both nationally and internationally, with a view to adopting any additional measures considered necessary for effective enforcement of road safety requirements in relation to non-alcoholic drugs.

  Question No. 161 answered with Question No. 158.