Shane Ross to end ‘bizarre’ drink-driving loophole

The current legislation allows first-time offenders to escape disqualification from driving

Minister for Transport Shane Ross has insisted a court should have the option to disqualify a driver if it feels it is warranted.

Minister for Transport Shane Ross is to reverse a controversial loophole in drink-driving legislation which allows first-time offenders escape disqualification.

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 Minister told The Irish Times he was preparing the general scheme of a new Bill which would end that “bizarre loophole”.

The rule would be changed within a manner of months, he said.


Mr Ross said his department was working with the Department of Justice to prepare the legislation, which he hoped would be before Cabinet by the end of the month.

He said he was undecided whether first-time offenders should carry an automatic disqualification.

However, he insisted a court should have the option to disqualify a driver if it feels it is warranted.

“We need to introduce legislation that in all cases of drunk-driving disqualification is an option. We are going to do this in the next few weeks,” he said.

“The principle has been decided but we have not worked out the finer details.

“We might leave it that they can pay their fixed charge but they will be disqualified too.

“Or we could make it mandatory that they have to go to court and that court has the option of disqualification.”


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 80 to 50 mg.

Mr Ross is 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.