Save lives – lower alcohol level for drivers

  • Reduce drink drive limit for motorists
  • Introduce compulsory alcohol testing of all drivers in road collisions

Alcohol Action Ireland, the national charity for alcohol-related issues, has called on the Government to fully support legislation due before the Oireachtas during Irish Road Safety Awareness Week, lowering the drink-drive limit to 50mgs of alcohol per 100mls of blood, from its current level of 80mgs.

Speaking at the beginning of Irish Road Safety Week, Alcohol Action Ireland’s Acting Director Cliona Murphy stressed the importance of reducing the blood alcohol content (BAC) level and urged all members of the Oireachtas to vote in favour of the incoming Road Traffic Bill.

  She said: “This is an easy decision to make – voting in favour of this legislation is a vote to save lives. Lowering the BAC will prevent many deaths and injuries on our roads.

“Alcohol, even in small amounts, has been proven to impact on driving. Any amount of alcohol is a risk, even if that amount is below the current BAC limit of 80mgs of alcohol per 100mls of blood. By lowering the limit to 50mgs, all road users will safer.

Ms Murphy added: “Some 127 people lost their lives on our roads in the first half of 2009 and it is estimated that one in three crash deaths are alcohol-related. The cost of responding to each fatal road collision is estimated at  €3million.

“These are shocking figures. If we want to reduce the damage caused on our roads, we must take alcohol out of the equation completely.

“Our current drink drive limit is amongst the highest in Europe, with only Malta and the UK having similar levels. Countries that have reduced the BAC have cut the numbers of alcohol-related deaths and injuries on their roads.”

“The Road Traffic Bill will be introduced to the Dáil next week and provides for the reduction of the current drink drive limit from 80mgs to 50mgs, and to 20mgs for novice and professional drivers. The Bill also provides for compulsory alcohol testing of all drivers in road collisions.

“Alcohol Action Ireland welcomes the progress the Minister for Transport has made in advancing this legislation – and we urge all of his Oireachtas colleagues to make the decision to save lives by giving the Road Traffic Bill their support,” concluded Ms Murphy. //Ends//

For more information please contact:

Cliona Murphy, Acting Director on 087 219 5723


Jo Fox, Communications Officer on 087 995 0186


Some facts on alcohol related harm on our roads

  • In 2006, the Gardai made 17,868 arrests for driving while intoxicated, up 34% on arrests made in 2005.[i]
  • Alcohol was found to be a factor in 37% fatal road crashes in 2003, in which 123 persons were killed.[ii]
  • Of the 87 drivers with alcohol who were responsible for crashes, 15 (17%) were not above the legal limit.[iii]
  • Almost nine out of ten (87%) people favour a reduction in the current BAC limit. [iv]
  • Roughly six out of ten (57%) said they would like to see the limit reduced to zero (‘effective zero’ approach)[v]
  • The European Commission estimates that at least a quarter of road deaths can be attributed to alcohol. The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that alcohol plays an even greater role.[vi]



[i] Garda Annual Report 2006

[ii] Bedford et al Alcohol in Fatal Road Crashes in Ireland. Findings based on Garda data on fatal road crashes in 2003

[iii] As above

[iv] PARC (2008) Drink-Driving Limit Survey based on sample of 3240 children and adults aged 15+

[v] As above

[vi] Swedish National Road Administration Towards Alcohol Free Roads in Europe