Alcohol charity welcomes new ‘life saver’ drink-driving legislation — stricter penalties needed

Alcohol Action Ireland, the national charity for alcohol related issues, today welcomed the passing of legislation lowering the drink driving limit and allowing for mandatory alcohol testing in injury-related accidents but called for stricter penalties on those flouting the new limits.

The Road Traffic Bill 2009 reduces the drink driving limit from a Blood Alcohol Concentration limit 80mg of alcohol per 100mls blood to 50mg of alcohol per 100mls, while the limit for learner and professional drivers has been cut from 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood to 20mg. The Bill also provides for mandatory alcohol tests following a road crash where someone is injured.

Alcohol Action Ireland Director Fiona Ryan said: “We welcome the passing of the new legislation and congratulate the Minister on his courageous stance.

” Drink driving is a serious issue with the potential to cause serious injury and loss of life, and the penalties incurred as a result of drink driving should reflect this. Under new legislation drivers found with Blood Alcohol Concentration levels between the new lower alcohol limits and the existing one – between 50 mg and 80 mg – face a €200 fine and three penalty points rather than a driving ban.   We have to remember some 98 people have lost their lives on our roads so far in 2010, and it is estimated that one in three crash deaths are alcohol-related. The penalties involved in breaking the law should reflect the gravity of the situation. ”

Ms Ryan said that the fact that the Bill had passed through the Dail with support from all political parties showed there was a broad acceptance of the serious nature of drink driving and the need for appropriate measures such as lowering the drinking driving limit and introducing mandatory testing.

“This support is echoing the public’s own attitude to drink driving – in fact the majority of the public have a zero tolerance approach to drinking and driving with a recent Road Safety Authority survey showing that 65% of drivers said there was no safe amount of alcohol you can have while driving. Unfortunately the same survey also showed that one in ten drivers had driven after having two or more drinks in the previous 12 months. This legislation will save lives.”

Ms Ryan urged that legislation be dealt with swiftly in the Seanad and for the Bill to become law as soon as possible to ensure greater safety for all of us using the roads.


For further information or comment contact:

Alcohol Action Ireland Communications Officer Cathy Gray (01) 878 0610/   087 995 0186