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The AA has welcomed the passing of the 2010 Road Traffic Bill which paves the way for reducing Ireland’s Drink Drive limit from 80 mgs to 50 mgs, along with a lower 20mg limit for learner drivers and professional drivers.

“50 mgs is the normal limit in most parts of Europe and indeed in most of the developed world.” Says Director of Policy Conor Faughnan. “Ireland is something of an anomaly with its higher 80 mg limit, and this brings us into line.”

Irish motorists very strongly favour this reduction. The AA conducted a major survey of motorists’ opinion last October showing 63.9% are in favour of reducing the alcohol limit to 50 mgs, 27.9% of respondents were opposed to the change.

“Any way you slice it, it is abundantly clear that Irish motorists understand the drink driving issue and want to see the limit lowered.”

Support for the measure is reasonably uniform across the country. It is strongest in Dublin at 66.3% approval and is weakest in Cork 58.1% approval. The data also shows that support was strongest among females (71.5% overall) and among those over 65s (67.5%).

The AA also believes that the decision to use a lesser punishment, short of a driving ban, where a driver is above 50 but below 80 mgs is an entirely sensible and practical measure.

“Accident risk increases markedly from 50 mgs upwards.” Says Faughnan. “However the AA believes that it is only fair to treat someone who is plainly drunk and wilfully dangerous as being guilty of a more serious offence.”

“Drivers who are just above the limit – perhaps because they still have alcohol in their system from the night before – are dangerous and will be breaking the law, but in fairness it must be acknowledged that this is not the same as the deliberate drunk driver.”