Drivers in Ireland who get behind the wheel after just half a pint will now face an automatic ban under new laws. The legislation proposed by Transport Minister Shane Ross has finally passed in the Dáil following months of delays. The legislation does not change the limits for alcohol consumption, at a blood alcohol level of 50mg for experienced drivers, but anyone found over this will now be put off the road for three months. At the moment, people found to be driving while over the limit are given a fine and three penalty points. Currently disqualification is only handed out as a penalty for drink drivers found with more than 80mg of alcohol in their blood.
The limit is lower for learner drivers and professional drivers, at a blood alcohol level of 20mg. The new laws have been vehemently opposed by a number of rural TDs. However, at a special sitting of the Dáil - attended by just 83 TDs - the bill was finally passed after a special provision invoked by Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy, which effectively called a halt to the debate. The Road Traffic (Amendment) Bill was passed in the Dáil with 75 TDs voting in favour and eight TDs voting against. The legislation will also impose stricter penalties on drink drivers and it will make it an offence for car owners to allow a learner to drive their car unaccompanied.