People who are found to be driving while over the legal alcohol limit now face an automatic driving ban, the Department of Transport has announced.
The drink-drive provisions of the Road Traffic (Amendment) Act 2018 came into effect at one minute after midnight on October 26, and they will ensure ‘that all drink drivers, without exception, will receive a driving disqualification'.
Anyone caught driving with a blood alcohol concentration of between 50 and 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood will be automatically disqualified from driving for three months. They will also receive a €200 fine.
Prior to this, the same drivers would have received three penalty points and a €200 fine.
"These measures mark a further significant step in clamping down on the scourge of drink driving. There are few more irresponsible and dangerous things people can do in everyday life than drink and drive.
"It was always wrong to give people the mild slap on the wrist of three penalty points for such potentially lethal behaviour, and it is great satisfaction to know that in future, people who behave this way will face a disqualification from driving for three months," commented the Minister for Transport, Shane Ross.
Welcoming the new provisions, the Road Safety Authority's CEO, Moyagh Murdock, pointed out that alcohol use among road users ‘is still a substantial problem in Ireland'.
"The most up to date statistics indicate it's a factor in 39% of driver fatalities. The introduction of a three-month disqualification for drivers detected with a blood alcohol concentration between 50-80mg sends out a clear signal that drink driving is something that is no longer acceptable or tolerable in our communities. This measure will save lives and prevent injuries," she said.
The new provisions were also welcomed by chief superintendent, Finbarr Murphy, of the Roads Policing Bureau.
"An Garda Síochána welcomes this very important change in legislation, which will assist us in taking high-risk intoxicated drivers off the road and making our roads and our communities safer.
"It is totally unacceptable to drink or take drugs and drive and any amount of alcohol impairs driving. When someone decides to drink or take drugs and drive, they put members of their community at risk. Nobody has the right to do that, so please never ever drink or take drugs and drive," he said.