24/06/2010

Dáil Reduces Legal Limit

The Irish parliament in Dublin has passed a new lower drink-driving limit, to the outrage of the country's publicans.

The acceptable blood alcohol limit while driving has been lowered to 50mg instead of the previous level of 80mg. The new limit was part of the Road Traffic Bill.

The Bill passed through the Dáil without a vote as agreement on its contents was reached on all sides.

Drivers caught over the limit would receive three penalty points and a €200 fine, if they do not challenge the conviction in court, but they will not receive a driving ban.

However, despite the Daíl consensus, the Vintners' Federation of Ireland (VFI) has accused the Government of "deliberately destroying the pub industry", saying the new limit is "over regulation through legislation".

Speaking yesterday, the President of the VFI, Gerry Mellett, said the pub industry throughout the country had been "brought to its knees" by the over regulation in the last few years and the new blood alcohol limits would be the final nail in the coffin.

"The Government’s approach to legislation has become too narrow minded and inflexible, with the result that the lives and the livelihood of people in towns, villages and communities throughout the country is being totally undermined.

"Many TDs and Ministers appear to be indifferent to the consequences of such over legislation on their constituents and their communities, and they need to recognize the stark reality of the situation."

Mr Mellet said that while the association did not condone drunk driving, in any fashion, the VFI would be calling on the Government to soften the provisions of the new Bill and to address and redress the issues of over regulation and the suffocation of businesses.

Mr Mellett also said that, "the National Executive will be meeting shortly to agree a plan of campaign to protect the industry".

The Bill now moves to the Seanad where it is due to be dealt with next week.

The limit for learner and professional drivers has been cut from 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood to 20mg and from 80mg to 50mg for other drivers.

(DW/BMcC)

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