Irish council in Kerry bid to relax drink-drive limit

 
Man drinking pint of beer (file) New lower drink drive limits were introduced in Ireland in 2011

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Councillors in south-west Ireland have backed a plan to relax the drink-drive limits for some isolated constituents.

The motion backed by Kerry county councillors would allow police to issue permits overriding the legal limit.

Councillor Danny Healy-Rae, who proposed the motion, said it would apply to "older people" who "are being isolated now at home, and a lot of them falling into depression".

But Kerry Mayor Terry O'Brien said the motion did not "make any sense".

The motion was passed on Monday afternoon by five votes to three, with seven abstentions - though according to TheJournal.ie news website, 12 councillors were absent for the vote which took place "towards the end of a long meeting".

A number of the councillors who approved the measure are reportedly themselves pub owners - but Mr Healy-Rae denied that this had influenced the vote.

The county of Kerry, hugging the rugged and windy south-west coast of Ireland, is known for its mountains, its rural scenic beauty and its winding country lanes.

'Depression'

Mr Healy-Rae told The Journal the people he thought could apply for the permits "are living in isolated rural areas where there's no public transport of any kind, and they end up at home looking at the four walls, night in and night out, because they don't want to take the risk of losing their licence."

Start Quote

Those in rural areas who may be suffering from isolation will not benefit from putting their lives and the lives of the other members of their community at risk by drinking and driving”

End Quote Conor Cullen Alcohol Action Ireland

"I see the merit in having a stricter rule of law for when there's a massive volume of traffic and where there's busy roads with massive speed. But on the roads I'm talking about, you couldn't do any more than 20 or 30 miles per hour [30-50km/h] and it's not a big deal. I don't see any big issue with it."

Mr Healy-Rae said the current drink-driving rules were forcing an older generation to stay at home.

"All the wisdom and all the wit and all the culture that they had, the music and the singing, that's all being lost to the younger generation because these older people might as well be living in Japan and Jerusalem because the younger generation don't see them at all any more.

The council will now call on the justice department to implement the change.

But the move was condemned by the mayor of Kerry, who told Irish broadcaster RTE: "It is incredibly dangerous. I don't know how anybody can be allowed to say: 'You've had two pints, so you're justified to drive'.

"I don't know what expertise one would have to look at someone in a bar to give them a permit to drive a car after any alcohol."

Alcohol-suicide 'link'

Conor Cullen of Alcohol Action Ireland told the BBC: "Almost one in three crash deaths in Ireland is alcohol-related. Even in small amounts, alcohol impairs driving ability - any amount of alcohol increases the risk of involvement in a fatal crash."

He said tougher measures against drink-driving in Ireland over recent years had seen road deaths fall by 42% between 2008 and 2012.

"Those in rural areas who may be suffering from isolation will not benefit from putting their lives and the lives of the other members of their community at risk by drinking and driving," Mr Cullen said.

"Also, it should be noted that the link between alcohol use and suicide has been well established and drinking alcohol will exacerbate not alleviate any mental health difficulties that a person may be struggling with, such as depression or anxiety."

In 2011, the maximum blood-alcohol limit in Ireland was reduced from 80mg per 100ml of blood - the same as the UK legal limit, one of the highest in the world - to 50mg for most drivers.

While the level of alcohol in the blood depends on the driver, for many the new law means a single drink could push them over the limit.

Learner, novice and professional drivers in Ireland are now limited to a maximum of 20mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood.

 

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  • Comment number 95.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 94.

    This is madness.
    .. and what about the other victim in an accident? - The innocent pedestrian who hasn't been to the pub? The children in the car driving home in the opposite direction? The innocent passenger in the "exempt" person's own car?
    Let's hope that the Irish Government steps in here, urgently.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 93.

    I agree its an inconvenience living far away from the pub.
    But its more of an inconvenience waking up dead which can really spoil your day.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 92.

    What a load of tosh!
    There's absolutely no need to drink until you're unfit to drive. Can these poor old souls not visit a pub without getting pissed?

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 91.

    So if you have a longer drive its O.K to drive it drunk but a shorter drunken drive is still illegal?...... that makes sense.

    Having driven in Co Kerry the roads aren't that great stone cold sober. They're so narrow and windy at times you can expect to meet something coming round a bend in the middle of the road and thats when you need your reactions at their sharpest.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 90.

    The council show provide late buses or the pubs pay for taxies home and NOT relaxing the drink drive limit.

    Sounds like a back hand deal if 3 if some of the councillors are pub owners

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 89.

    One of my parents is from very isolated western Mayo and my past memories are being in over-loaded cars full of drunks and the lack of any enforcement by the local GARDA.

    If people are isolated please find a solution to that which is not being allowed to drink to excess.

    Many parts of Western Ireland are isolated: are permits to be issued to everyone who wants one? If so, forget drink-drive law

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 88.

    As usual there is a massive over-reaction here. The proposal is 2 pints, the same as here! People need to live a life, it's not just about raw statistics -otherwise we should be banned from going out at all, it's way too dangerous! You can be a dangerous driver through messing with the CD player or day dreaming.Ultimately everyone has to take responsibility for their driving whatever situation.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 87.

    84.Paul
    7 Minutes ago
    "This is ridiculous, alcohol worsens the effects of deepression for a start! "

    However, socialising and fun reduces it



    You DO NOT need to drink to have fun.....


    ....and I say that as someone who is discovering the joys of staying sobber whilst out as I have finally admitted to myself that for too long I have drunk too much.....

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 86.

    I used to be involved, peripherally, in anti-drink drive advertising work and saw plenty of stats that showed drinking impairs safe driving. This proposal is dangerous nonsense based on thinking from what I thought was a bygone age. If you want a drink, don't drive. If you can't have a drink without driving, don't drink. There are worse problems than not having a drink.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 85.

    Councillor Danny Healy-Rae, who proposed the motion, owns a pub...

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 84.

    "This is ridiculous, alcohol worsens the effects of deepression for a start! "

    However, socialising and fun reduces it

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 83.

    Wow, some sense from an arm of a state, in this day and age, amazing.

    Nothing is black and white.

    "Who's more guilty; someone who deliberately drinks drives and gets home without incident, and someone who deliberately drinks drives and accidentally kills someone?"

    Umm let me think for a minute. The latter. Obviously. Yes it may be luck but so is everything in life.

    Negative away...

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 82.

    Quote: "A number of the councillors who approved the measure are reportedly themselves pub owners - but Mr Healy-Rae denied that this had influenced the vote. " Yeah right, of course it didn't lol

    What other country in the world would issue permits to allow people to leagally drive drunk. Pure and utter madness. Does tax payers money really get spent on this rubbish?

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 81.

    I am Irish, living in Dublin and this makes me sick. I think that everyone in this country has known someone who has been a car crash at some point, not to say they are all drink related though. When I first heard this story I thought it was a joke. It is beyond stupid. Everyone must follow the same rules of the road. In no way is this the solution to help rural people feel less isolated.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 80.

    the Catalan police have quite a sensible approach to drink-driving in rural areas. when they approach a car to breathalyse the driver, they always have a breathalyser in each hand, behind the back, one real and one rigged to show 0.0 no matter what. then they have a little small-talk with the driver to establish whether s/he is sober enough to drive. if so, s/he gets the rigged, otherwise the real

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 79.

    A ludicrous idea. Alcohol impairs judgement and slows reaction times, however well many people think they can drive, and lets face it most driving is appalling with people who are sober. It is well documented fact that drink driving is dangerous and the cause of accidents and deaths, which are avoidable.

    There should be a limit of zero alcohol when driving, one can always walk or get a taxi.

  • Comment number 78.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 77.

    I agree that the danger is less to others, some of these roads dont see cars on a daily basis but the danger would still exist to the individual driving. If Mr Healy-Rae wants to help these people he should buy a bus and start a shuttle service as taxis are not readily available in rural areas. He is going about it all wrong. Stupid!

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 76.

    I always find it fascinating what articles the BBC open up for comment and what they do not.

 

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