Publicans could drive drinkers home under new proposals from Ross
Minister exploring options in response to concerns over new drink-driving legislation
Tough choice? The IFA has proposed making breath-testing devices available to allow people test themselves the morning after a night of drinking, before they decide whether to drive. File photograph: Getty Images
Minister for Transport Shane Ross is examining the roll-out of community car schemes and assessing insurance costs for publicans to drive customers home from the pub.
Mr Ross has confirmed he is exploring a number of options in response to concerns raised about the effect of new drink driving legislation.
The measures being looked at include making breath tests available to individuals, offering designated drivers free soft drinks and making rural hackney licences more accessible.
In correspondence to the Fine Gael parliamentary party chairman Martin Heydon, Mr Ross insists the issue of rural transport and the related problems with social isolation are matters he is taking very seriously and is committed to addressing.
The Minister has asked the National Transport Authority (NTA) to assess the roll-out of community car services and the level of demand for such a scheme to be developed. Local volunteers would use their own car to help individuals who have difficulty accessing forms of transport but could receive some financial payment.
The Department of Transport has also contacted Insurance Ireland to assess the likely cost of insurance for a publican to drive patrons home.
The Minister was asked to develop new measures in light of new drink driving legislation, which will automatically ban drivers caught over the limit.
Fine Gael members have expressed concern about the effect of the proposals but have committed to supporting them.
The IFA proposed making breath-testing devices available to allow people test themselves the morning after a night out drinking.
While Mr Ross does not envisage the State would be in a position to be associated with the supply of such devices, the Minister believes the suggestion should be considered further.
The Minister also spoke of incentivising publicans to offer designated drivers two free soft drinks in return for a safe trip home.