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Powers of Gardaí to Arrest Persons on Suspicion of Drink Driving

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Image of Guiness representing drink driving

Developments in legislation in relation to drink driving has slowly seen an erosion of the rights of the ordinary citizen in Ireland.  This can be justified by reference to the need to reduce the number of deaths caused by drink driving.  However, when drafting legislation the Oireachtas has always been mindful of the need to strike a balance between the need to protect the rights of the citizen and to protect society at large.  Therefore it is of the utmost importance in the prosecution of any drink driving case that the Gardaí work within the framework of their legislated powers of arrest.

There are essentially three primary ways in which a Garda can arrest someone on suspicion of drink driving:

1.    Where they have formed an opinion through their observations that a person is drunk to such an extent as to render them incapable of having proper control of a mechanically propelled vehicle (i.e. a car, motorbike, truck, bus etc.).

2.    Where they obtain a positive preliminary breath test result at a properly authorised Mandatory Alcohol Checkpoint.

3.    Where they obtain a positive preliminary breath test result at the scene of an accident.

Obviously there are strict criteria for Gardai to comply with prior to making an arrest under any of the above categories; the liberty of the citizen is at risk and should only be deprived in accordance with the law.

If a person is arrested in a manner that does not comply with legislative requirements then all evidence following from this may be inadmissible and the case may fail.

If you have been affected by any of the above or if you have a query in relation to drink driving matters generally please feel free to contact me by email at or call me on our freephone number at 1890 390 555.

Liam Crowley

Liam, with his expertise in litigation and court work, primarily supports John in handling personal injury and medical negligence claims. His passion for criminal law stems from his initial years in a bustling Dublin city centre criminal law practice, where he gained ample experience appearing before the District and Circuit Courts in the Criminal Courts of Justice and Clover Hill, in Blanchardstown and Tallaght District Courts and in High Court bail and judicial review matters.


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