The Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross TD, has welcomed the decision of the Government earlier today to approve the General Scheme of a Road Traffic (Fixed Penalty – Drink Driving) Bill 2017.
Speaking today the Minister said: “The evidence shows that despite a perception to the contrary, drink driving continues to be a very serious issue in this country. We can no longer be ambivalent in our attitude toward this destructive practice.”
Research conducted by the Road Safety Authority cites alcohol as a contributory factor in 38% of fatal collisions in the four year period examined. Furthermore, An Garda Síochána’s recent Drink Driving Campaign which took place over 6 weeks in December of 2016 and into the New Year, resulted in 961 arrests for drink driving. This is a 35% increase in arrests on the same period in 2015.
The Minister said: “What I am now proposing is that the existing provision allowing people to get penalty points rather than a disqualification for drink driving sends the wrong message and should go. Instead of three penalty points, such drivers will get a three-month disqualification. This is quite proportionate. Drink driving is serious, and potentially fatal. Even a small amount of alcohol can impair people’s reactions, and that cannot be tolerated when people are behind the wheel of a car.”
The Minister hopes that this Bill can be passed quickly and without amendment. Minister Ross added: “It is important to get it out there and working, and with it the message that drink driving will no longer be without serious consequences. This is an important step on the road to enacting what will be a focused, timely and urgently needed piece of legislation which will ultimately save lives.”
The General Scheme will now be submitted to the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel for formal drafting, with a view to its publication as soon as possible. In line with Government policy, the Minister will also refer the General Scheme to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Transport, Tourism and Sport for its consideration.