48% of young drivers support zero drink limit

NEARLY half of Ireland’s youngest drivers support reducing the legal drink-driving limit to zero, according to a survey revealed yesterday.

The survey of 3,262 people was conducted by the road safety group PARC, with questionnaires answered outside supermarkets and newsagents nationwide.

The current drink-driving rules mean when drivers are tested, the concentration in their blood cannot exceed 80 milligrams of alcohol for every 100 milligrams of blood tested.

The survey, backed by Alcohol Action Ireland, found that 48.5% of respondents aged between 17 and 24 believe that the blood-alcohol limit should be completely reduced to zero.

When age factors are removed, 59% of people said zero alcohol should be tolerated.

Overall, about 99% of those quizzed favoured some form of reduction in drink-driving limits.

Speaking about the results PARC chairperson Susan Gray said: “Even very low levels of alcohol impair your driving ability. The results of this survey clearly demonstrate a growing attitude among people that the current drink-driving limits are too high with only 1% of people in support of them as they are.”

The survey findings will now be handed over to Transport Minister Noel Dempsey and the Road Safety Authority for consideration.

Other results from the survey included:

* 69% of respondents favour a blood alcohol level of 20mg or less.

* 64% of respondents aged between 50 and 64 would favour an effective zero level for blood alcohol.

* Overall, 59% of drivers want the blood alcohol level to be reduced to zero.

* Only 16% of respondents favour the limit being reduced to 50mg.

* 59% of people aged between 25 and 34 favour no tolerance for drink driving at all.

“What is very encouraging here is the high levels of support for zero alcohol tolerance among the younger age groups,” said Ms Gray.

PARC want Mr Dempsey to fast-track legislation to reduce the current drink-driving limits.

Following a review of last year’s Road Safety Strategy, the minister accepted the recommendation that blood alcohol levels should be reduced.

But the minister’s spokesman yesterday said he was not in a position to say exactly when a revised blood alcohol level would be “fully operational”.

Mr Dempsey is awaiting advice from the Road Safety Authority.

Meanwhile, gardaí yesterday revealed a large increase in drink-driving arrests that occurred during the week of and after the St Patrick’s Day celebrations.

Provisional figures show during the seven days from Monday, March 17, to Sunday, March 24, 564 drink-driving incidents were recorded, compared with 390 the previous week.

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