Latest: No exceptional cases for rural areas in drink-driving proposals, says Transport Minister

Update 11.18am: Transport Minister Shane Ross said today that there can be no exceptional circumstances for anyone caught drink driving.

Minister Ross said that he is launching a sustained attack on drink-drivers with new laws repealing the current situation where a first-time offender does not get automatically disqualified.

He has faced questions from TDs and Senators over the lack of public transport provision in rural Ireland.

However, Minister Ross said that there can be no special case for people in rural Ireland on this issue.

“I don’t believe there are any exceptional cases,” he said.

“I believe this is an absolute. If you’re over the limit in Dublin, you’re over the limit in rural areas as well.

“They must accept that the dangers that are posed by people going behind the wheel over the limit are the same in one place as the other, and the dangers of fatalities are the same, because the impairment to driving is the same.”

Update 8.26am: Independent Kerry South TD Michael Healy-Rae has expressed his opposition to proposed legislation that would see first-time drink-drivers disqualified from driving.

Transport Minister Shane Ross will brief an all-party group on the proposals later, and Deputy Healy-Rae is looking forward to hearing more information on the plan.

“He’s talking about bringing it before a committee today,” said Deputy Healy-Rae.

“Is he or has he brought it before the Cabinet, has he the full support of Cabinet on this, do his colleagues support what he’s intending or proposing to do?

“So yes, this may be his own personal opinion, but we’ll have to see will it eventually become law or not.”

Earlier:

The Cabinet is set to approve new laws next week that will see first-time drink-driving offenders disqualified from driving.

Transport Minister Shane Ross will outline why the measure is necessary when he addresses an Oireachtas Committee this morning.

In 2009 when drink drive limits were lowered, laws were passed that first-time drink drive offenders got three penalty points and a fine but were not banned from driving.

This morning at the Transport Committee, Minister Ross will say the statistics around drink driving are extremely concerning and need to be tackled urgently.

He will say that the current regime for first-time offenders sends out a message it is not a serious offence.

He will announce he plans to bring legislation to Cabinet next Tuesday meaning all drivers caught drink driving will receive a mandatory disqualification.

He will also appeal to Opposition parties not to amend the legislation when it goes before the Dáil and Seanad so it will pass into law quickly.


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