The Fake Breath Test Controversy

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By Jenny Bui / March 28, 2017

What is the current controversy surrounding the An Garda Síochána?

There are two main issues that the Garda management has to deal with.

Over the last couple of weeks it was revealed that almost a million of breath tests performed by the Irish police force between 2011 and 2016 never happened.

The Irish Times reported in February that the number of breath tests recorded on the Garda pulse system appeared to be unusually high compared to the number of motorists tested. Consequently, the operation of drink-driving checkpoints are now being inspected.

Furthermore, about 140,000 motorists were wrongly summoned to court for road traffic infringements.

The Garda started looking into this matter after the Road Safety Authority had been tipped off by a letter in 2014. The anonymous letter indicated that there were issues with alcohol testing checkpoints in the west of the country.

The discrepancy between the tests recorded on the system and the actual tests carried out became especially clear when Prof Denis Cusack, head of the Medical Bureau of Road Safety alerted the Garda in 2014, saying that the breath tests the Garda claimed to have performed were significantly higher than the plastic mouthpieces purchased for carrying out these tests. When the bureau inquired if the Garda needed more equipment, they said they had enough in stock.

The fake breath tests were such a big deal because the the Garda as well as the public were so perplexed by the sheer scale of the error. Moreover, it is an issue that the Garda was only made aware of after the Irish Times reported about it last month. Deputy Commissioner John Twomey said that this was “due to an administrative error on my behalf.”

About the author

Jenny Bui


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