Ross refuses to dilute plans for mandatory ban for drunk drivers

Politicians speak out over Minister for Transport’s controversial proposals

Minister for Transport Shane Ross is seeking to change the law to impose a mandatory ban for every driver caught under the influence. Photograph:  Frank Miller

Minister for Transport Shane Ross is seeking to change the law to impose a mandatory ban for every driver caught under the influence. Photograph: Frank Miller

 

Controversial proposals to have a mandatory driving ban for all motorists caught over the alcohol limit will not be diluted, Minister for Transport Shane Ross has said.

The Minister’s measures have been met with significant resistance from politicians.

Six Cabinet Ministers have spoken against the new legislation, which will automatically ban all drivers caught over the legal limit.

Speaking on Wednesday, Mr Ross said he wanted publicans and insurance companies to discuss how it could get drivers home safely after an evening in the pub.

However, the Minister added: “There is not going to be any change in the penalties in which we impose for drunken driving. Drunken driving is an offence and the penalty is going to be taken off the road. That will not be diluted in any way.”

The Road Traffic (Fixed Penalty-Drink Driving) Bill 2017, which is proposed by Mr Ross, would introduce an automatic three-month driving ban on all motorists found under the influence of alcohol.

Currently, a driver detected with 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.

Fianna Fáil and a number of Independents have insisted they will not support the measure. Fine Gael TDs and Senators are seeking a free vote on the matter.

Mr Ross said he accepted pubs were an essential part of the fabric of rural Ireland but it was necessary for alternative measures to be considered.

The Minister declined to be drawn on the possibility that tax incentives would be offered to publicans to ensure customers get home safely, an initiative proposed by Minister of State Brendan Griffin.

Mr Ross said: “I am happy to facilitate by bringing them [insurance companies and publicans] together but we have not talked money in any sense.”

The Minister insisted this should be a discussion on common sense, not money.