The Limerick Gardaí has expressed concerns over a rise in drug-driving, with one in seven roadside tests coming back positive.

The city’s road policing unit – which carries out roadside drug testing for illicit substances including opiates, benzodiazepines, cocaine, and cannabis – reported that a growing number of motorists are testing positive for narcotics.

Drug-driving is especially prevalent among 18 to 29-year-olds, it said. Additionally, around one in every 130 roadside tests for alcohol generates a positive result.

Raising awareness about drug-driving

Roadside drug tests are carried out using oral fluid devices, which are used to detect traces of drugs in saliva via a mouth swab.

As part of its annual New Year road safety campaign, gardaí have notified members of the Limerick Joint Policing Committee about their concerns surrounding drug-driving.

Inspector Padraig Sutton of the Limerick Gardaí said: “In recent times, we have seen how drug-driving has really increased.

“In days gone by, our New Year campaign was very much focused on alcohol. Now drink and drug-driving are almost on a par. Drugs are even beginning to overtake alcohol.”

Around 94 per cent of drug-drivers in Limerick are male, according to figures, with the problem reaching beyond city limits into rural areas.

Limerick’s Chief Superintendent, Gerard Roche, said the rise in positive drug tests is a huge worry.

“You don’t have to wait very long at any checkpoint before you have a drug-driver come along,” he said.

He also pointed out that people who use drugs casually at the weekend and who would not see themselves as regular or problem users still get into their car and take a huge risk of driving under the influence.

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