Drinking and driving

Sir, – I read with interest some of the proposals to deal with the increased deaths on Irish roads. These proposals include lowering the limit of alcohol from 50 mg of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood to 20 mg. When that doesn’t work, not doubt the Ministers will be looking to reduce it to zero. Where to then, Ministers? Will walking past a pub, before driving a car, become an offence?

Reducing the limit to 20mg merely changes the definition of a drunkard from one who drinks in excess of one pint to one who drinks a pint of shandy or a half pint of regular beer.

I have a revolutionary plan for the minister. It involves giving the Garda the resources to rigidly enforce the existing laws on drink-driving and speeding. It can be called the enforcement initiative.

Until the current laws are enforced, these needless, tragic deaths will continue, no matter what the alcohol limits are. – Yours, etc,




Dublin 5.

Sir, – Reporting on drink-driving often shows a cavalier attitude to statistical evidence. We were told recently that the Garda Síochána had detected 34 per cent more cases of drink-driving this year than 12 months previously. There was a complete failure to address some simple questions. Was the number of people checked similar to 2015? Were the checks at the same places, at the same times of the day or on the same days of the week? If the Garda had made intelligent use of data from 2015 they might well have had a more efficient checking procedure in 2016, which yielded “better” results. We don’t know, because these questions were never answered.

Prof Frank Murray argues for a lower alcohol driving limit (January 3rd). He may be correct, but again where exactly is the evidence? We know the percentage of accidents in which alcohol appears to have been a factor is quite high, but we are not told the extent to which consumption in the 20mg to 50mg range is a factor, as opposed to consumption at various levels often well in excess of 50mg. We need such evidence if we are to make a rational case for a lower limit, as opposed to a more effective enforcement of the existing limit.

This country seems to me to have a great ability to pass new restrictive legislation and an equal inability (with the exception of smoking) to enforce it. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 14.