Politicians urged to back mandatory drink-driving ban

Road victims’ group appeals to committee members to support Shane Ross’s legislation

Minister for Transport Shane Ross wants drink-drivers  caught with between 50mg and 80mg of alcohol per 100mg of blood to be disqualified from driving for three months. Photograph:  Dave Meehan

Minister for Transport Shane Ross wants drink-drivers caught with between 50mg and 80mg of alcohol per 100mg of blood to be disqualified from driving for three months. Photograph: Dave Meehan

 

Families of people killed on Irish roads have urged politicians to “listen to the victims” and back mandatory bans for those caught drink-driving.

The Irish Road Victims’ Association (IRVA) called on politicians to support legislation tabled by Minister for Transport Shane Ross that would see those caught with between 50mg and 80mg of alcohol per 100mg of blood disqualified from driving for three months.

Currently, those in that range can pay a €200 fine and incur three penalty points for a first-time offence. The proposal has run into opposition from Fianna Fáil which has flagged its intention to block it.

At an Oireachtas transport committee on Wednesday, and at a subsequent press conference with Mr Ross, the group appealed to committee members to support the move.

Concerns

“Some members of the Oireachtas may have concerns about the impact on rural areas but the answer to that is there is no proposal by the Minister to change the law as to when an offence has been committed,” said Donna Price, the association’s founder whose son Darren was killed in a crash in 2006.

“I’m sure no member of the House will want to be seen to condone anyone, in whatever pub, in whatever part of Ireland drinking and driving and endangering others,” she said.

The proposed legislation is due before the committee in the coming weeks and Mr Ross is confident of it passing quickly.

Last month, Fianna Fáil spokesman on transport Robert Troy said his party would not support its passage and that the Minister was being “lazy” in focusing on a measure that had no supporting evidence it would save lives.

That view was countered by the Road Safety Authority which said that 6 per cent of drink-drivers found culpable in fatal crashes between 2008 and 2012 were in the 50mg to 80mg range.

‘Nightmare’

Ms Price appealed to the committee not to be swayed by lobbyists and to “listen to the voices of the victims who have lived this nightmare and who have unfortunately experienced the injustice of our legal system that has failed to meet their needs”.

She was joined by Gillian Treacy whose son Ciaran was killed by a drunk-driver and Leo Liegheo whose daughter Marsia died in a hit and run.

Deputy Troy said his party had “grave reservations” on the proposal but they were awaiting the publication of the legislation.

Mr Ross said the figures provided by the RSA made it “absolutely incontrovertible that the 50mg to 80mg grouping is a very dangerous area. Anybody who says that or denies that is just speaking from pure ignorance.”