Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross, has welcomed the Government’s decision to approve for publication the Road Traffic (Amendment ) Bill 2017.
The Bill proposes that instead of three penalty points for drivers found to be over the blood alcohol limit, drivers will receive a three month disqualification. The current limit is not changing.
“Despite considerable lobbying on behalf of vintners groups to oppose this life-saving measure, I am grateful to my colleagues at Cabinet for understanding that the arguments presented by the vintners and other vested-interest groups were not based on facts or reliable evidence,” Minister Ross said after the Bill received Cabinet backing.
“I would now ask all members of the Oireachtas, in particular Micheál Martin and members of the Fianna Fáil party, to listen to the very clear evidence of the Road Safety Authority (RSA ) rather than to the vintners groups, and support this Bill when it is introduced to the Oireachtas after the summer break.
Minister Ross added that the leader of the Labour Party, Brendan Howlin, has asked for further information from experts to confirm that this Bill will save lives.
“I can assure him, or any other TD who needs clarification or additional information about the veracity of the evidence supporting this measure, that the RSA are on hand to provide it,” Minister Ross said.
“The existing provision allowing people to get penalty points rather than a disqualification for drink driving sends the wrong message and needs to go. There is overwhelming support for this Bill, as 91 per cent of Irish adults, rising to 93 per cent in rural areas – where most fatalities occur – indicate support for drink drivers being automatically disqualified.
“This Bill is also supported by the RSA, AA, and by road safety campaigners and will send a clear message that drink driving is wrong and will not be tolerated.”
The Bill’s passage through the Oireachtas in the autumn is not yet guaranteed as a decision has not yet been made on whether non-Cabinet members of the party will get a free vote on the matter.