'Nobody in my neck of the woods has caused a fatality after three glasses of Guinness', Danny Healy-Rae tells committee discussing new drink driving rules
Kerry TD Danny Healy-Rae has said that no one in his area has caused a fatal accident on the road after drinking "three glasses of Guinness" during a debate on new driving laws.
The Independent TD has been vocal about his concerns surrounding stricter penalties for people caught drink driving which are currently being discussed in the Dáil.
The bill allows for drivers caught driving with between 50mgs and 80mgs of alcohol per 100ml of blood be hit with an automatic disqualification of three months, instead of receiving a €200 fine and three penalty points as currently applies.
The current drink driving limit is 50mgs per 100mls of blood, falling to 20mgs for professional and novice drivers, and there is no proposal to reduce this.
Speaking today Mr Healy-Rae questioned how statistics are compiled for alcohol related deaths.
"There has been many pedestrians killed... and it's because our roads are inadequate first of all for pedestrians to walk on. We are not allowed to cut the bushes so you are walking practically out on the road," he told a Dáil Transport Committee’s per-legislative scrutiny of the Road Traffic (Fixed Penalty – Drink Driving) Bill 2017.
This was because "some other do gooders won't let us cut the bushes, only for a couple of months of the year" he added.
"Then you have case when a fella is going home on his own side of the road driving with a pint or maybe two or three glasses - on his own side of the road - and then [a] lunatic comes down the other side of the road, doing 100mph and runs into him. There is a fatality to the fella with the pint and the half pint - he's blamed then. It is deemed to be an alcohol related accident.
"Then you have the fella then going home after one pint and then he hits black ice," he said.
Mr Helay-Rae went on to say that nobody in his area has caused a fatal crash while driving after consuming three glasses of alcohol.
"I want to know the make-up of your figures Minister because I don't believe that the person drinking one pint or a pint and a glass or three glasses...because in rural Ireland that was their only option for the last number of years... the old man or the single man or a single lady.
"The only outlet they had was to come to the pub and have the three glasses and I can tell you they drove home carefully and they haven't been the cause of the accidents you're talking about. And I can assure you that," he said.
"I have a good grasp of what happens around my neck of the woods and I know that nobody caused a fatality... by having three glasses of Guinness drank," he added.
Earlier Transport Minister Shane Ross told the committee that the proposals were supported by the Road Safety Authority, road traffic victims’ groups, the AA and Gardaí.
He said these figures came following an analysis of blood or urine samples by the Medical Bureau of Road Safety, and did not arise from figures issued by An Garda Síochána, which are in question.
The Road Safety Authority believes up to eight lives could be saved every year if the measure was enacted.
Responding to concerns about a potential impact on rural Ireland, where transport option are fewer the minister said “no part of the country would benefit more in terms of lives saved”, as 81pc of alcohol-related deaths occurred in rural Ireland.