Having a pint before driving ‘wouldn’t cause an accident’ - Danny Healy-Rae

TD argues drink driving campaign could lead to social isolation in rural Ireland

Speaking during a joint committee meeting on drink driving, Kerry TD Danny Healy-Rae has called into question the figures put forward by Minister for Transport Shane Ross

 

Independent TD Danny Healy Rae says he firmly believes that having a pint or a pint and a half does not impair drivers or their ability to drive.

He was responding to a new campaign warning of the dangers of drink driving and collisions the morning after drinking.

Mr Healy Rae told Newstalk Breakfast that such a campaign could lead to social isolation and that the research behind the campaign lacks clarity.

“We need to get clarity on what level of milligrams we’re talking about.”

He said he wouldn’t condone anyone driving with more than 80milligrams of alcohol in their system, but he thought that between 50mgs and 80mgs would not impair a person’s ability to drive or cause an accident.

“My contention is that anyone in that bracket wouldn’t cause a fatality or an accident.”

The Independent Kerry TD was reacting to claims 11 per cent of fatal crashes involving alcohol take place between 7am and 11am.

The Road Safety Authority (RSA) and An Garda Síochána have launched a public information campaign to educate drivers about the dangers of driving the morning after drinking alcohol.

The RSA analysed An Garda Síochána Forensic Collision Investigation reports for fatal collisions that occurred on Irish roads between 2008 and 2012.

Specifically, they looked at alcohol-related crashes the morning after and found that 11 per cent of the 222 fatal collisions in which a driver had consumed alcohol occurred during the early hours of the morning.

Commenting on the campaign, Transport Minister Shane Ross said: “Drivers need to be aware that they may not be safe to drive the morning after a night out, as they may still have alcohol in their system.

“As such, it is critical that drivers take measures to ensure their safety and the safety of others and this means leaving the car at home and making alternative arrangements for the morning after if they need to get somewhere.”

The new campaign includes two new radio advertisements and will be broadcast on all national and regional radio stations over the next three weeks.

Mr Healy-Rae said the change in legislation being proposed would have an impact on people in rural Ireland, they could lose their job, would not be able to take their children to school or their elderly parents to doctor’s appointments.

“We don’t have the Dart or taxis in rural Ireland. Are people in Dublin not aware of this? The people in rural Ireland are entitled to a life too.

“It’s about having a bit of interaction with their neighbours or people across the parish.”

Mr Healy Rae said he was respectfully asking other Dáil deputies not to vote for this legislation.

He asked what the penalty is for drivers with 50mg-80mg in their system in other countries. “I’m told it doesn’t apply in other countries.”

“We are as good as people in other countries. I want clarity.”

When asked if he ever brought customers from his pub home if they couldn’t drive, he said that he had done so last night, but that he is not there every night.