Drinkaware urges motorists to take time to understand new drink driving law

Leitrim Observer reporter

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Know the law regarding drink driving.

Drink Driving

Drinkaware is this week responding to major concerns raised by members of the public on the lack of clarity around recent changes to drink driving laws, by reminding motorists that newly updated drink driving provisions of the Road Traffic (Amendment) Act 2018 are now in effect.

These new provisions increased the penalty for drivers detected with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) between 50mg and 80mg from a €200 fine and three penalty points to three months disqualification from driving (plus a €200 fine).

What is the drink driving law?

As of Friday 26 October 2018, ordinary fully licenced drivers detected by An Garda Síochána with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level of between 50mg and 80mg, receive an automatic disqualification from driving of three months and a €200 fine.

The penalties for learner, novice and professional drivers have not changed. Penalties for drivers in these categories remain the same at three months disqualification from driving and a fine of €200.

Why is this change in law important?

Drink driving arrests in Ireland have been steadily increasing for the past three years. Last year, 8920 drivers were arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of an intoxicant (DUI), compared to 8067 arrests in 2016 (an 11% increase). It is clear that drink driving remains an issue in Ireland, with the latest Road Safety Authority statistics showing that alcohol is a factor in 39% of all driver fatalities.

Speaking on the need to address concerns raised, Drinkaware CEO, Sheena Horgan, said: “There is clearly confusion out there about the new drink driving laws, we can see this with the volume of calls and emails we are receiving from people who are looking for clarity on the change. The crucial thing to understand is that this legislation update increases the penalties for drink driving at lower alcohol levels; it does not change the legal limits.

"At Drinkaware, one of the most common questions we are asked is, ‘How many drinks can I have and still be okay to drive?’ The simple answer is none. Drinkaware continues to strongly support official guidance from the Road Safety Authority and An Garda Síochána and advocates that any amount of alcohol will impair your ability to drive. However in reality what we see is a tendency to weigh up the risk based on past behaviour.

"For instance, a person who has driven their car after having one or two drinks and faced no consequences may be likely to use this as a justification for repeating the offence, with little or no regard for endangering all road users in their path as a result. We would ask anyone considering this behaviour to not take the risk, the consequences are just not worth it.”