Thursday 17 August 2017

Mixed signals from Government, but one pint will put you over limit

Background

Paul Melia and Treacy Hogan

TINKERING with drink- driving laws always touches a nerve.

Yes, everyone wants to see the downward spiral in road deaths continue. But this aspiration will not stop the expected public furore when a new lower drink-driving limit is introduced next month.

The Government will also be accused of sending out a mixed signal.

On the one hand, the limit falls from 80mg to 50mg in line will all our European partners, except the UK where the higher limit prevails.

On the other hand, drivers caught just above the new limit will only receive penalty points and a fine, thereby avoiding a court appearance and a driving ban.

This could be easily construed as encouraging drivers to "take a chance".

And some drivers caught above the existing limit will also avoid court and see their ban halved to just six months.

Getting public support for the new system appears to be at the heart of the apparent leniency being introduced.

After all, just one pint will put you over the limit, and it appears that the lenient approach is a sop to garner some kind of public blessing, and an avoidance of a hostile public backlash.

The airwaves turned blue when random breath-testing was first mooted, with publicans and some rural Dail deputies predicting the end of the world as we knew it.

It was pushed through by the last government in the face of bitter opposition from publicans who claimed it would lead to the closure of businesses, particularly in rural Ireland.

The facts about drink- driving speak for themselves as alcohol is estimated to be a contributory factor in one in three fatal collisions.

In one in four fatal crashes, the driver had consumed alcohol.

Any alcohol impairs driving and increases the risk of collision. At half the current limit, drivers are twice as likely to be involved in a collision.

At the current limit drivers are six times more likely to have a collision.

Irish Independent

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