Irish council keen to relax drink-drive limit

12.00 | 22 January 2013 | | 9 comments

Councillors in Kerry in south-west Ireland have backed a plan to relax the drink-drive limit for some isolated residents (BBC News).

The motion was passed on Monday afternoon by five votes to three, with seven abstentions – though according to news website, 12 councillors were absent for the vote which took place "towards the end of a long meeting".

The BBC News report says that a number of the councillors who approved the measure are reportedly pub owners, but Mr Healy-Rae denied that this had influenced the vote.

Mr Healy-Rae said the people he thought could apply for the permits "are living in isolated rural areas where there’s no public transport of any kind, and they end up at home looking at the four walls, night in and night out, because they don’t want to take the risk of losing their licence".

He added: “I see the merit in having a stricter rule of law for when there’s a massive volume of traffic and where there’s busy roads with massive speed. But on the roads I’m talking about, you couldn’t do any more than 20 or 30 miles per hour and it’s not a big deal. I don’t see any big issue with it."

The council will now call on the justice department to implement the change.

The move was condemned by Terry O’Brien, mayor of Kerry, who told Irish broadcaster RTE: “It is incredibly dangerous. I don’t know how anybody can be allowed to say: ‘You’ve had two pints, so you’re justified to drive’. I don’t know what expertise one would have to look at someone in a bar to give them a permit to drive a car after any alcohol.”

Conor Cullen, of Alcohol Action Ireland, told the BBC: “Almost one in three crash deaths in Ireland is alcohol-related. Even in small amounts, alcohol impairs driving ability – any amount of alcohol increases the risk of involvement in a fatal crash.”

He said tougher measures against drink-driving in Ireland over recent years had seen road deaths fall by 42% between 2008 and 2012.

Click here to read the full BBC News report.


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    Ireland has made substantial progress in reducing deaths and injuries on Irish roads, particularly in rural areas which are hardest hit by road fatalities and injuries.

    Ireland needs to proceed with that and continue with the life-saving policies that Ireland have in place. Such a call to revert back to the way of thinking of this one individual would be an insult to all the good work that has been done and it is a non runner with the people of Ireland.

    Noel Gibbons , Road Safety Officer , Mayo County Council
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    Quote “But on the roads I’m talking about, you couldn’t do any more than 20 or 30 miles per hour and it’s not a big deal.” So how about the same for residential 20 mph zones?

    Dave, Sheffield
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    Surely on roads where “you couldn’t do any more than 20 or 30 miles per hour” you need to be more in charge of yourself and your vehicle rather than less? What’s the next step, a holiday visa to allow tourists to drink drive whilst visiting the area? Bizarre!

    Mike, Oldham
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    So much for a Decade of Action there! If a licensed drunk driver wiped out a family, would the licensing authority be liable? A pathetic attempt by politicians for a local populist vote. One thing is certain, they would duck responsibility when the inevitable happened.

    Olly, Lancs
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    Let’s not have a knee-jerk reaction to this especially as the details are not clear.

    Don’t forget that Ireland has the ludicrously low EU d/d limit that Scotland is imposing and, in order to drive with a higher limit, someone must first apply. They must be old and living in a rural area, but we don’t know what the limit for successful applicants would be. If they are simply allowed the UK d/d limit, then where’s the cause for alarm?

    What’s more, this law could prevent d/d deaths by creating a reasonable limit that people will self-enforce with the police only having to detect dangerous d/d, rather than technical offences.

    Most importantly, I would hope that the effects of this law would be competently evaluated and honestly reported. (vested interest: none, I don’t d/d).

    Dave, Slough
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    I believe there are many families who won’t visit Ireland this year because of this utter madness.

    alex robb
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    Absolutely unbelievable. Drink driving kills and these people are making that OK – utterly, utterly wrong.

    Charlotte P
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    Me too David. You couldn’t make it up. Unbelievable

    I’m wondering if anyone caught in the cross fire of such a disastrous decision might have grounds to sue…..

    Jan Deans CEO Dynamic
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    Surely this story has been printed a few months too early, or have I gone to sleep and woken up on 1st April. If it wasn’t such a serious issue, it might, just might be the weakest of jokes.

    David, Northampton
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

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