Ireland drink-driving law changes face filibuster

  • June 20, 2018

Stricter limits on drink-driving are being blocked in the Irish parliament by a small group of MPs opposed to the changes.

The Road Traffic Bill includes provisions for an automatic three-month driving ban for first-time offenders if caught with blood-alcohol levels of between 0.5 g/l and 0.8 g/l.  Drivers currently caught at these levels receive three penalty points and no driving ban.

The bill had almost reached its final stage in its passage through the lower house of the Irish parliament when a small number of MPs began filibustering (using delaying tactics) to prevent a vote on the new law taking place.

The MPs, who represent rural areas, say that a lack of public transport in their constituencies means that social life would be harmed by the rules because residents would no longer be able to drive home legally after drinking.

According to The Journal, a news website, Kerry MP Danny Healy said in one parliamentary debate on the law that “a pint and a half of beer never made anyone drunk”.

The statement flies in the face of a substantial body of scientific evidence that driving ability deteriorates even at levels below 0.5 g/l.

Liz O’Donnell, chair of ETSC’s Irish member RSA said: “These deputies are showing utter contempt for road safety and are not reflecting the views of the vast majority of the people of rural Ireland. It must be heartbreaking and offensive to the bereaved families left to rebuild what is left of their devastated lives.”