There has been a 17% increase in the number of arrests for driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs in the first two months of 2019 compared with the same period last year.
To date this year, 1,429 drivers have been arrested from 1 January to 28 February.
The Medical Bureau of Road Safety, which analyses the blood and urine specimens of drivers arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence, has also reported an increase in the number of specimens being sent for analysis this year.
Shane Ross, Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, said: "The introduction of the Road Traffic (Amendment) Act 2018 has increased the penalties for drink driving at lower levels. These penalties apply at any time.”
Chief Superintendent Aidan Reid said that gardai would have a visible enforcement presence across the country over the St Patrick’s bank holiday weekend.
Chief Superintendent Reid added: "Drivers are required to carry their driving licence on their person. If stopped and breathalysed and you don’t have your licence, you will be tested at the lower level.
“If you fail, you will be arrested and taken to a garda station for further testing. Please remember, the drink-driving limit in Ireland is 50mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood. However, for learner drivers, novice drivers, professional and commercial drivers, a lower limit of 20mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood applies. Having a valid driving licence to hand will avoid this situation.”
To date in 2019, a total of 34 people have been killed on Irish roads – though not necessarily as a result of drink-driving. Four people were killed or seriously injured over St Patrick’s weekend in 2018.