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Breath tests after serious car crashes law on hold

DRINK drivers involved in fatal or serious-injury crashes will not face automatic breath tests from the end of the month as originally planned by the Government.

The new law has instead been delayed until at least next September, when lower drink-drive limits finally come into force, the Irish Independent has learnt.

Former Transport Minister Noel Dempsey had decided not to wait until then and to push through special legislation earlier this month. But the political crisis has led to the measure being effectively frozen until a new government is formed.

Enforcement of the new limits -- from 80mg to 50mg for most drivers, and from 80mg to 20mg for learners and professional drivers -- has also been delayed, because gardai have to get new breath test devices calibrated with the lower limits.

A group set up by Donegal woman Susan Gray to campaign for the mandatory breath test at accident scenes reacted with fury yesterday at the latest delay.

The Public Against Road Carnage (PARC) organisation highlighted how they had spent years campaigning for the measure and were assured it would be in place after the new Road Traffic Act was signed into law last year.

"The legislators took four years to get this right and now they are telling us that this law on mandatory testing cannot be implemented as it is linked to the lowering of the new drink-driving limits," said PARC.

"We call on the Minister for Transport of the new administration to implement the 2010 act as soon as his or her appointment is made. "


The group said that former Transport Minister Noel Dempsey had introduced an entirely new bill as a means of rectifying the problem.

"We were told that this would be an interim solution in order to introduce compulsory testing so that we would not have to wait on the arrival of the new equipment," the group added.

Fine Gael transport spokesman Simon Coveney also criticised the Government for the long delay.

"Mandatory testing at the scene of an accident was the key demand of lobby groups promoting road safety, and of the many families who have suffered due to drink driving who welcomed the Road Traffic Bill," he said.

Irish Independent