Fine Gael TDs to be given free vote on drink-driving Bill

Shane Ross’s legislation to automatically ban drink-drivers is unlikely to pass in Dáil

 The Bill would introduce an automatic three-month driving ban on all motorists found under the influence of alcohol. File photograph: John Giles/PA Wire

The Bill would introduce an automatic three-month driving ban on all motorists found under the influence of alcohol. File photograph: John Giles/PA Wire

 

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is set to give Fine Gael TDs a free vote on new legislation to automatically put drink-drivers off the road.

The decision will mean the Road Traffic (Fixed Penalty-Drink Driving) Bill 2017, which is proposed by Minister for Transport Shane Ross, is unlikely to pass in the Dáil.

The Bill would introduce an automatic three-month driving ban on all motorists found under the influence of alcohol.

Mr Ross had requested and understands he has secured a free vote for the Independent Alliance during negotiations with Mr Varadkar ahead of his election as Taoiseach.

The Taoiseach has now outlined his belief that Fine Gael backbenchers should also be given the same voting options as the Alliance members.

The Bill, which is due before Cabinet for consideration within the next two weeks, has been met with significant opposition. Fianna Fáil and Independent TDs have confirmed they will vote against the legislation.

Influence

Currently, a driver detected with between 51-80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood can receive three penalty points and a €200 fine.

Mr Ross is seeking to change the law to impose a mandatory ban for every driver caught under the influence.

He said: “It is a matter for Fine Gael, of course. But I would welcome a free vote and I believe it will pass if a free vote is allowed.”

The new Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Brendan Griffin, who was chair of the Oireachtas committee on transport before his appointment, said he has yet to be fully convinced of the merit of the measures.

“I do not think it will do any harm but I believe there should be more focus on enforcing the laws we have at present and catching people who are driving significantly over the limit.”

A number of other Fine Gael TDs, including Minister of State Seán Kyne and Galway TD Hildegarde Naughton and Senator Frank Feighan have also stated their objection.

Independent Alliance TDs Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran and Seán Canney have, along with Fianna Fáil, confirmed they will not support the proposals by Mr Ross.