New laws on drink driving 'are too lenient'
A MAJOR row erupted over the new drink-drive changes yesterday, forcing Transport Minister Leo Varadkar to hit back at claims that giving penalty points to drivers caught just over the new drink-drive limit sends out the wrong road-safety message.
A spokesman for Mr Varadkar said: "This is a significant tightening of the drink-driving laws. It will no longer be legal to drive with a blood alcohol level above 50mg per 100ml, and 20mg for specified drivers, learner or professional drivers."
He explained that a driver who is between 50mg and 80mg per 100ml will be arrested and brought to the station in the normal way, where an evidential breath test will be carried out.
"Their car will remain at the scene of the arrest and the driver will not be allowed to recover it until they sober up. They will receive an on-the-spot fine of €200 and three penalty points. This is a much tougher system than before but it is not more lenient," the spokesman said.
An avalanche of calls to the 'Joe Duffy Liveline' programme yesterday complained that the 'second chance' system, revealed in yesterday's Irish Independent, was too lenient. Several callers said the penalties, due to be introduced from next month, should be tougher.
Susan Gray, of the PARC road safety group, said she was opposed to the reduction in the driving ban from 12 months to six months for drivers with blood alcohol levels of between 80mg to 100mg. But Road Safety Authority chief executive Noel Brett said Ireland would now have some of the strictest penalties for drink driving.