Galway TD Sean Canney has spoken out against Transport Minister Shane Ross’ new drink driving bill which could see first-time offenders and ‘morning after’ drink drivers disqualified.
Minister Ross’ Road Traffic Amendment Bill suggests that anyone caught with between 50 and 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100ml of blood should be automatically banned from driving.
Under current legislation, if a person is between 80 and 100 mg per 100 ml they get a six-month disqualification. If they are between 50 and 80 mg per 100 ml, they can choose to accept three penalty points.
As it takes 12 penalty points for a six-month disqualification, someone could potentially drink drive (50 to 80mg per 100ml) FOUR times before facing any consequences.
Minister Ross’ Bill instead proposes a three-month disqualification in place of a “relatively trivial” three penalty points.
Speaking in the Dáil, Independent Alliance TD Canney spoke of how he fears the Bill will “isolate” those in rural areas.
“I think this bill goes too far, I think we need to look at it, we need to balance it up, and we also need to have more discussion about how this bill will affect rural Ireland and how we can see it being rural proofed and how we can make sure we don’t isolate more and more people.
“I do believe that the laws we have at the moment are sufficient.
“Maybe the penalties applicable to 50mg to 80mg should be looked at but I think we inadvertently create laws which can be counter-productive and I do believe this one would be.”
While tabling the bill, Minister Ross says that those who believe the new bill will cripple people’s social lives in rural Ireland are “missing the point”.
“We want to save lives in rural Ireland… The fundamental mistake of those critics who say that this Bill will damage rural Ireland is that they are conflating two very different issues,” Minister Ross said in the Dáil.
“One is drink-driving, which is a public safety issue, and an issue on which I want to protect the public everywhere, in all areas, rural and urban. The other and entirely separate issue is the problem of social isolation in rural Ireland. These two issues are different and those who would treat them as one issue do a disservice to both.”
“We talk of a need for culture change in regard to drink-driving, and rightly so. We cannot expect a change if the law itself does not step up to the mark,” concluded Minister Ross.
The Bill is currently going through the House of the Oireachtas, and Minister Ross believes that it will be passed by the Dáil.Tags: