Saturday 24 February 2018

Motorists are being persecuted in the name of health and safety

A Garda holds a breathalyser device. Stock image
A Garda holds a breathalyser device. Stock image
Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

How dispiriting it is to see opposition to Transport Minister Shane Ross's drink-driving law proposals caricatured as the ramblings of flat-capped deputies from the nation's deep south. To be sure, the Healy-Rae brothers have a colourful mode of expression that's guaranteed to raise a titter in the drawing rooms of Kingstown, but they make a valid point about Mr Ross's plans to ratchet up the penalties for those detected driving in the 50-80mg BAC (blood alcohol content) range.

There is a hardcore of repeat offenders who drink-drive at levels way beyond the 50mg limit and who are most often implicated in fatal road traffic accidents. It is these incorrigibles who Mr Ross should target through rigorous enforcement of existing laws.

Now we're told that new penalties will "save lives", rhetoric with the handy effect of branding those opposed as unwilling to save lives. An extension of this emotional blackmail is the practice of giving prominence to road safety pressure groups in the drafting of legislation. We regularly see grieving relatives meeting with ministers, Dáil committees, etc, to demand ever greater restrictions. How is such privileged access conducive to democracy?

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