Ross drink-driving crackdown to be blocked by Fianna Fáil

Minister for Transport’s Bill would disqualify all drivers found under influence of alcohol

Changes proposed by the Minister for Transport would see even one small alcoholic drink place a driver over the limit.   File photograph: Philip Toscano/PA Wire

Changes proposed by the Minister for Transport would see even one small alcoholic drink place a driver over the limit. File photograph: Philip Toscano/PA Wire

 

Fianna Fáil is to block plans by Minister for Transport Shane Ross to automatically disqualify drivers found under the influence of alcohol.

Mr Ross has received Cabinet approval to proceed with legislation to replace current penalties for drink-driving with an outright ban.

However, Fianna Fáil’s spokesman on transport, Robert Troy, said his party would not support such measures.

Mr Troy said the Minister had not produced any evidence to support the proposals.

Speaking to The Irish Times, he said: “Minister Ross is being lazy in my opinion. There is nothing to suggest such a road safety measure will be effective or will save lives.

“There are many proposals that Mr Ross should be focused on including restoring the Traffic Corps to the level of 2010 and ensuring adequate enforcement of current legislation.”

Current law stresses drivers caught with an alcohol limit of between 50mg and 80mg per 100ml will receive three penalty points and a €200 fine if it is their first offence.

The legislative change was introduced by former minister for transport Noel Dempsey in 2009.

The move was seen as a concession to Fianna Fáil backbenchers who had threatened to vote against the measure at the time because it lowered the alcohol limit from 80mg to 50 mg.

The general scheme of a new Bill has proposed to end that loophole and ensure every driver caught under the influence can receive the same penalty.

Alcohol limits

It is understood many Fine Gael TDs and some members of the Independent Alliance had similar concerns showing it would have been difficult to pass the legislation. Fianna Fail’s opposition will ensure it will not proceed.

Mr Ross did not respond to calls for comment on the Fianna Fáil decision. He is also preparing a number of changes to drink-driving legislation including lowering the alcohol limits further from 50mg to 30mg if current trends on our roads continue.

This would see even one small alcoholic drink place a driver over the limit.

The Road Safety Authority Amendment Bill 2017 will provide for other road safety matters including the provision of a database of disqualified drivers

Meanwhile, it has also emerged Mr Ross has not delegated any responsibility to his Minister of State, Patrick O’Donovan.

In response to a parliamentary question, the Minister for Transport confirmed there had been no statutory delegation of functions to Mr O’Donovan.

He has been given general responsibility for a number of areas including sports issues, domestic tourism marketing and tourism-generating events.

In addition, he is asked to assist in attending public events and attending Oireachtas business. Mr O’Donovan is the only Minister of State not to have delegated powers and is understood to have written to Mr Ross requesting a formal decision be taken.