More drink drivers caught in NI than ten years ago

More motorists in Northern Ireland are being caught drink-driving than a decade ago, new figures reveal.

May 28, 2024
By Paul Jacques

Data released by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) shows that last year 3,763 drivers failed a roadside breath test or refused to provide a sample.

This contrasts with 3,252 in 2014 – an increase of 16 per cent.

The number of tests conducted was also up eight per cent compared with ten years ago – with 31,398 motorists stopped by police in 2023.

One in eight drivers failed the test last year.

“It’s less socially acceptable to drink and drive now, and there’s much greater awareness of the dangers”, comments Hunter Abbott, managing director of personal breathalyser firm AlcoSense.

“Therefore it’s disappointing that so many drivers are still found to be over the legal limit”.

Two-fifths of breath tests conducted in 2023 were as a result of road traffic collisions. The worst time of day was between 3am and 6am when one in four motorists tested positive.

The highest number of tests were carried out on Saturdays, while Sunday saw the biggest number of failures.

Separate figures published by PSNI show a seven per cent increase in drink or drug-driving offences referred for prosecution, compared with 2014.

Men accounted for almost four-fifths of the offences and more than half (56 per cent) were in the 30-49 age group.

Belfast city was the drink/drug-drive hotspot with 552 offences detected – a rate of 20 per 10,000 adult population.

Mid Ulster (307 offences) recorded the highest percentage rate, with 26 per 10,000.

Ards and North Down had the fewest detections (153) and the lowest rate per 10,000 population (11).

“The good news though is that drivers in Northern Ireland appear to be more responsible than the rest of the UK,” adds Mr Abbott.

“The breath test failure rate in England and Wales has been 17 per cent for the past few years, which compares favourably with 12 per cent for Northern Ireland”.

All convicted drink drivers in Northern Ireland are now automatically referred to a rehabilitation training course. Those completing the course will see their disqualification period cut by up to 25 per cent.

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