19. Deputy Alan Farrell asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will provide information on MATs in view of the most recent changes to legislation in this area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49666/18]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): The Deputy will appreciate that I have no direct role in the operation of Mandatory Intoxicant Testing (MIT) checkpoints, or the enforcement of road traffic legislation, which are operational matters for the Garda Commissioner. However, I have obtained a Garda report on the matters referred to in the Deputy's question.
The Deputy will be aware that my colleague, the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, brought forward the Road Traffic Act, 2018 (the 2018 Act), which came into effect on 26 October 2018. As of that date, a driving disqualification is now provided in legislation for all persons detected of drink-driving.
As the recent legislative amendment only amended penalties being imposed, there are no procedural changes to MIT checkpoints being conducted by An Garda Síochána. I am informed that, since commencement of the 2018 Act, 5,935 MIT checkpoints have been conducted by An Garda Síochána nationally, with 29,516 roadside breath-tests conducted, of which 129 tests indicated a presence of alcohol. Also at MIT checkpoints, 231 oral fluid tests were conducted during the same period, of which 31 indicated a presence of drugs.
I am also informed that, during the same period in 2017, there were 6,074 MIT checkpoints conducted, with 26,538 roadside breath-tests conducted, of which 168 tests indicated a presence of alcohol. Also at MIT checkpoints, 147 oral fluid tests were conducted of which 16 indicated a presence of drugs.
As this legislation only came into effect on 26 October 2018 and the statistics provided are valid to 26 November 2018, it is not possible, at this time, to provide any indication as to whether detections recorded at MIT checkpoints will result in an increase in the number of prosecutions commenced and / or convictions recorded as a result of the enactment of the relevant legislation under the 2018 Act, which primarily only amended the penalties imposed for certain offences to which a Fixed Charge Penalty applies. Ultimately, of course, the aim is not to increase the number of prosecutions but instead to positively change driver behaviour.
An Garda Síochána has confirmed that the statistics provided are provisional, operational and liable to change and relate to tests conducted at MIT checkpoints only and are valid to 26 November 2018.