Griffin and Ross split on driving 'work permits' for drink drivers

Simon Brouder

A sharp difference of opinion has emerged between Tourism and sport Minister Brendan Griffin and his senior Minister at the Department of Transport Shane Ross.

Over the weekend it emerged that Minister Griffin had asked officials at the Department to examine a system that is used  in New Zealand which allows convicted drink drivers an exemption from their driving bans to allow them drive to and from work.

If a driver can prove that a ban is causing them "extreme hardship" then they can be granted an exemption by the courts that allows them to drive on certain routes at specific times. Minister Griffin said that he had "asked officials to come back to him on it" adding that he was open to considering and looking at all proposals. He did not explicitly back the idea and said only that he wished to have officials at the Department examine the pros and cons of the New Zealand system.

Independent Kerry TD Michael Healy-Rae  made a similar call this week saying that the introduction of a  New Zealand-style limited permit system should at least be considered. "All I'm simply saying is explore the idea, it has worked in other countries, I don't see why it couldn't work here. Again, all I'm saying is, look into it," Deputy Healy-Rae said. However, Transport Minister Shane Ross has moved to shoot down the suggestion. "Absolutely no question of countenancing any idea of exempting anyone. This idea is a non-runner," Ross said.  "If the vinters want to suggest ways of stopping drivers drinking alcohol, let's hear them. The (road Traffic Amendment) Bill will not be amended. No exceptions. We have introduced lifesaving legislation. We will not be diluting it," Minister Ross said.