Drink drivers to face mandatory disqualification

The Transport Minister announced the new proposals at the Oireachtas Transport Committee

The Cabinet is set to approve new laws next week that will see first-time drink driving offenders disqualified from driving.

Currently first time offenders face three penalty points and a fine.

The mandatory disqualification plans are among a suite of tough new measures Transport Minister Shane Ross intends to impose.

Minister Ross told the Oireachtas Transport Committee that the statistics around drink driving are extremely concerning and need to be tackled urgently - with the current legislation sending out the wrong message.

He highlighted RSA figures indicating that alcohol was a contributory factor in 38% of collisions between 2008 & 2012.

He also described as 'shocking' Medical Bureau of Road Safety data suggesting that 22% of people detected driving intoxicated were four times over the legal limit.

"I am determined that this bill will be enacted as quickly as possible," he added. "We want to get this through quickly as we believe it will save lives quickly."

The legislation would mean all drivers caught with drink taken would receive a mandatory disqualification.

Other new measures include legislation allowing for the cross-border exchange of vehicle registration and driver data, and the establishment of a database of disqualified drivers.

Minister Ross added there can be no exceptional circumstances for anyone caught drink driving.

"If you're over the limit in Dublin, you're over the limit in rural areas as well," he said.

"The dangers that are posed by people going behind the wheel over the limit are the same, one way or the other."