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Drink-driving arrests soar by 34% in December

The number of motorists arrested on suspicion of drink-driving over the festive period has soared this year, gardai have warned.

Provisional figures indicate that, since the start of December, there has been an increase of 34% in the number of arrests, with 738 people detained, compared with 549 for the same period last year.

On New Year's Day 12 months ago, 46 drivers were arrested on suspicion of intoxicated driving.

The Garda highlighted the figures as it joined with the Road Safety Authority to appeal for responsible driving during the new year festivities.

There has been 188 road fatalities in the Irish Republic this year - an increase of 25 on last year.

The latest death came on Friday morning when a man in his 70s sustained fatal injuries as the 4x4 he was driving collided with a van on the M8 motorway. The van driver was taken to hospital in a serious but stable condition.

Assistant Garda Commissioner Michael Finn said: "On Christmas day alone, 14 drivers were arrested by gardai on suspicion of intoxicated driving.

"It is disappointing, following the many appeals and media focus in this area, that so many divers continue to take such a risk. We again appeal to drivers to be responsible and to never, ever drink and drive.

"We appeal to passengers to never take a lift from someone who has been drinking, and also to pedestrians - please enjoy the new year celebrations and be safe. Plan your journey home in advance. Let's make this new year a safe one for all."

Moyagh Murdock, from the RSA, said: "Any amount of alcohol impairs your driving. This is not an opinion, it's a scientific fact.

"So if you are socialising to ring in the new year, remove temptation altogether and leave the car and keys at home and plan how you are going to get home.

"Be aware too that you may not be safe to drive the morning after a night out, as you may still have alcohol in your system.

"Our appeal is to passengers too, don't take a lift from anyone who has been drinking and don't put your life in their hands."

Later on Friday, gardai announced another road fatality.

A woman in her 80s died in a single vehicle collision in Co Cavan.

It is believed to have happened on Thursday night when the car she was driving struck a ditch off a road at Keenagh, near Ballyjamesduff.

Gardai were called to the crash scene on Friday when the alarm was raised at about 10.45 am.

The woman was pronounced dead at the scene.

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