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Irish council votes to relax drink-driving laws

 

Richard Hall
Tuesday 22 January 2013 19:53 GMT
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Councillor Danny Healy-Rae argued that that current laws regulating drink-driving were forcing an older generation to stay home
Councillor Danny Healy-Rae argued that that current laws regulating drink-driving were forcing an older generation to stay home (Getty Images)

Councillors in rural Ireland have come up with a novel way of tackling the problem of drink driving – by making it legal. The plans backed by Kerry county council, in south-west Ireland, would allow police to issue permits that give permission for some people to have “two or three” alcoholic drinks and still drive.

Councillor Danny Healy-Rae, who proposed the motion, said the new rules should apply to “older people” who live in isolated areas. He argued that current laws, which limit most drivers to no more than one drink, were forcing an older generation to stay home.

“All the wisdom and all the wit and all the culture that they had, the music and the singing, that’s all being lost to the younger generation because these older people might as well be living in Japan and Jerusalem,” he told The Journal.ie.website

He added: “I see the merit in having a stricter rule of law for when there’s a massive volume of traffic. But on

the roads I’m talking about, you couldn’t do any more than 20 or 30 miles per hour and it’s not a big deal.”

The motion was reportedly passed at the end of a long meeting when 12 councillors were absent. The council will now call on the Irish justice department to look at the plans.

But it is unlikely that the council will be able to force a change in the law. The idea was branded “unthinkable” by road safety campaigners, and the Mayor of Kerry, Terry O’Brien, called it “incredibly dangerous.”

There was also controversy over the fact that a number of councillors who approved the measure, including Mr Healy-Rae, are pub owners, and as such could benefit from the rule-change. Mr Healy-Rae denied that this had influenced the vote.

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