– ‘Second chance’ for drunk drivers rejected by alcohol charities

New proposals to reduce the penalties for drivers just over the blood alcohol limit have been criticised by alcohol charities.

Under the new measures, motorists caught just above the new limit of 50mg alcohol per 100ml of blood will only face penalty points and a €220 fine – although if they are caught a second time, they will be banned. It will also be a three-tier system where drivers breath-tested between 80mg and 100mg will be fined €400 and banned for six months, while anyone above 100mg faces a 12-month ban, the Irish Independent reports.

Currently, anyone caught even slightly over the limit will have to appear in caught and faces a 12-month ban if convicted. The limit is currently 80mg, but will be reduced to 50mg – or less than a pint of beer – next month in line with several other European countries. It’s understood the reduced penalties are designed to avoid the courts being glutted with drink-drivers after the new limits come into force.

However, Fiona Ryan, director of Alcohol Action Ireland, rejected the new regime. “We know there are no safe levels for drinking and driving,” she told “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. The message is don’t drink and drive because someone may lose their life as a result – surely the penalties should reflect this fact?

Fionnuala Sheehan, chief executive of alcohol responsibility group MEAS, also urged drivers to avoid drinking anything at all. “Even a small amount of alcohol in your system will seriously affect your ability to drive safely,” she said. “If people plan to drink I would encourage them to designate a driver or to use public transport.”

RSA chief executive Noel Brett has defended the new system, telling the Irish Independent: “We believe that these are proportionate penalties, fairly targeted and we are comfortable with them.”

Source: The – 23/08/11
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