New rules on drink-driving are to take effect from tonight which will automatically disqualify any motorists who are found to have consumed alcohol.
The commencement of the provisions of the Road Traffic (Amendment) Act 2018 from midnight was announced by Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Shane Ross today.
The laws, which ensure that all drink drivers, without exception, will receive a driving disqualification, replace previous legislation which provided for penalty points for some drivers instead of a disqualification. Those drivers will now face a disqualification from driving for three months.
Before now, a driver detected with a blood alcohol concentration of between 50 and 80 milligrams was punished with a €200 fine and three penalty points.
Speaking today, Minister Ross said the measures were a "significant step in clamping down on the scourge of drink driving".
"There are few more irresponsible and dangerous things people can do in everyday life than drink and drive," he said.
"It was always wrong to give people the mild slap on the wrist of three penalty points for such potentially lethal behaviour, and it is a great satisfaction to know that in future people who behave this way will face a disqualification from driving for three months.
Moyagh Murdock, Chief Executive, Road Safety Authority said alcohol consumption by road users is still a substantial problem in Ireland.
"The most up to date statistics indicate it’s a factor in 39% of driver fatalities. The introduction of a three-month disqualification for drivers detected with a blood alcohol concentration between 50mg and 80mg sends out a clear signal that drink driving is something that is no longer acceptable or tolerable in our communities," she said.
"This measure will save lives and prevent injuries. Importantly it will assist in achieving the Government’s road safety strategy target of reducing deaths to 124 or fewer annually by the end of 2020. ”
Ms Murdock also advised motorists to take extra care on the roads over the October Bank Holiday weekend.
This was reiterated by Chief Superintendent Finbarr Murphy from the Roads Policing Bureau who said that gardai would focus on all intoxicated driving this weekend.
He also said on An Garda Síochána welcomed the change in legislation.