April 2017 had highest monthly drink driving arrests in 5 years

Shane Ross insists legislation is about ’one thing only and that is saving lives’

New traffic measures include increased penalties for speeding, mobile phone use, non-wearing of seat belts and carrying unrestrained children.

New traffic measures include increased penalties for speeding, mobile phone use, non-wearing of seat belts and carrying unrestrained children.

 

Gardaí arrested more people for drink driving in April 2017 than any other single month in the previous five years, according to Minister for Transport Shane Ross.

Mr Ross insisted that his controversial legislation on drink driving is about “one thing only and that is saving lives”.

The Minister also dismissed claims that the evidence he cited was out of date. He acknowledged that he had used statistics between 2008 and 2012.

Mr Ross was winding up the introductory or second stage debate on the Road Traffic (Amendment) Bill which increases penalties for drink-driving.

It provides for an automatic disqualification on a first offence for those convicted of driving while over the permitted limit of 50mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood.

Currently a first offence in the 50 mg to 80 mg/100ml of blood category carries penalty points and a fine but not a disqualification.

Measures also include increased penalties for speeding, mobile phone use, non-wearing of seat belts and carrying unrestrained children.

The debate has continued over a number of months and before the Christmas recess the Minister accused some TDs of filibustering on the legislation, a delaying tactic to impede its progress through the Dáil.

Rural TDs who oppose the legislation claim it will have a detrimental effect on rural areas which are already suffering.

Last night Independent TDs twice called for a quorum which requires the presence of 20 TDs for business to continue.

He told TDs there was an issue with disqualified drivers not handing in their driving licences on conviction. “Very few do return their licences.”

But he said the real problem was “disqualified drivers driving”.

The Minister will introduce an amendment at a later stage in the Bill to allow gardaí to detain the vehicles driven by unaccompanied learner motorists.

Mr Ross also said there were appropriate penalties in place in existing legislation for motorists convicted of drink driving with levels of alcohol in their blood above 80mg/100 ml.

TDs will vote on the second stage of the legislation ton Thursday afternoon.