Mr. Noel Dempsey TD, Minister for Transport, has published the Road Traffic Bill 2009, which provides for a reduced blood alcohol concentration (BAC) for drivers and mandatory testing of drivers involved in collisions. The Bill also includes a number of other amendments to road traffic legislation.
The new proposed blood alcohol concentration levels contained in this Bill are:
o Reduction from 80mg of alcohol (per 100 ml of blood) to 20 mg for learner, novice and professional drivers
o Reduction from 80mg of alcohol (per 100 ml of blood) to 50 mg for other drivers
Minister Dempsey said; “The aim of this Bill is to improve road safety, save lives and reduce serious injuries on our roads. Thanks to the hard work of the Road Safety Authority, An Garda Siochana and others we have made great progress in recent years but we can’t forget that 279 people were killed on our roads last year. Intoxicated driving is one of the main causes of fatalities and injuries on our roads and that is not acceptable. The research in this area is conclusive and irrefutable. Reducing the BAC from its current limit of 80mgs has a proved beneficial effect and will save lives and reduce serious injuries throughout Ireland. It’s the right thing to do.”
He added; “We made a commitment to reduce BAC levels and to provide for alcohol testing at collisions and this new Road Traffic Bill provides for both. I have taken the opportunity in the Bill to introduce other improvements to support the implementation and enforcement of road traffic provisions. We must never become complacent about road safety.”
The Road Traffic Bill 2009 includes provisions to:
o Introduce administrative fixed penalties for certain drink driving offences (i.e. learner, novice & professional drivers at BAC levels of 20-80mg; other drivers at BAC levels of 50-80mg and 80-100mg)
o Introduce Preliminary Impairment Testing (such as co-ordination tests) to assist Gardaí in forming an opinion as to whether a driver is under the influence of an intoxicant (drink or drugs);
o Amend fixed charge and penalty point provisions, to provide for the option of payment of a fixed charge on receipt of a summons for the offence; to set out certain presumptions in relation to the delivery of fixed charge notices; and to improve certain matters relating to the endorsement of penalty points on driver records
o Amend driving licence provisions, to ensure that penalty points and disqualifications can be applied to non-national driving licences, and to give the Gardai powers to seize a licence where the driver has been disqualified or where the licence has been fraudulently obtained or is forged or altered;
o Amend provisions and penalties in relation to disqualifications and restates, with amendments, certain driving offences, including inconsiderate, careless and dangerous driving.
The Bill also restates existing provisions on intoxicated driving, consequential disqualifications and fixed charge offences in a consolidated and clearer format, and includes a number of minor amendments to the Road Traffic Acts.