Road safety activists back automatic drink driving ban

The transport minister has called for groups representing vintners to "get off the pitch"

Road safety activists back automatic drink driving ban

Independent TD John Halligan, the Transport Minister Shane Ross and Independent TD Finian McGrath following meetings in relation to the publishing of the Road Traffic (Amendment) Bill 2017, 17-07-2017. Image: Leah Farrell/RollingNews

Road safety activists have hit out at TDs who are opposing the new Road Traffic Bill.

Transport Minister Shane Ross is proposing to introduce an automatic driving ban for first-time offenders caught at the lower limit.

Currently drivers caught with alcohol concentrations of between 50mg and 80mg face a fine and penalty points but no ban – provided it is their first offence.

Publishing the bill this morning, the Minister Ross urged vintner groups – who are opposing the bill – to “get off the pitch” and called on Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin to get behind it, adding “I know his heart is in the right place on issues of this sort.”

The Vintners’ Federation of Ireland (VFI) has accused the minister of trying to mislead the public to get the legislation over the line – insisting that only 1.3% of road deaths involve people at the lower limit.

A number of rural TDs meanwhile, have warned the bill is unfair - particularly for those in rural Ireland who cannot easily get home from the pub.

Independent Kerry TD Danny Healy Rae has suggested it is ok to drive after three glasses of beer - an idea that Anne Fogarty from PARC Road Safety Group finds offensive.

“People were very angry in there today, because we feel that we are not being listened to and the lives of our relatives are not being valued,” she said.

“Our lives out there and all of your lives out there are not being valued by those TDs who want to vote against this bill.”

The RSA chief executive Moyagh Murdock has said that driving with a blood alcohol level of between 50mg and 100mg “increases the risk of a fatal crash by a factor of five.”

A number of government ministers have been opposed to the bill but are expected to vote for it.

This morning, Minister Ross also confirmed measures are being looked at to improve rural transport so people in remote areas are less inclined to drink and drive.

With reporting from Sean Defoe ...