I thank the Deputy for giving me the opportunity to comment on the interpretation of the figures in question. It is of fundamental importance to how people view the implementation of our law, particularly for dangerous driving. Recent reports referred to by the Deputy suggested that only 40% of people charged with drink-driving offences are being convicted. This figure is based on an interpretation of data provided by my colleague the Minister for Justice and Equality in a response to a parliamentary question. My colleague was asked for, and provided, figures for the number of summonses for drink-driving cases and the number of convictions. These figures were portrayed by treating convictions as a percentage of summonses leading to the false conclusion that 60% of cases taken to court led to acquittal. The reality, as the Courts Service pointed out, is that 86% of drink driving cases which go to court result in convictions.
The fundamental error in the portrayal and reporting of those figures is that the number of summonses in fact represents all summonses requested. It includes those not yet processed, not yet issued, not yet served or not yet come to court. It also includes cases which are being dealt with by a court but have not concluded.
On the reform of drink-driving penalties, legislation on intoxicated driving was last reviewed and consolidated in the Road Traffic Act 2010. This is quite robust in dealing with driving under the influence of alcohol. The Road Traffic Bill 2015 will seek to strengthen the law on driving under the influence of drugs. The drafting of the Bill is being finalised. It is my intention to commence the passage of this Bill through the House before the end of the year.