Motorists have been urged to take the time to understand recent changes to the drink-driving laws ahead of the Christmas period.
Drinkaware is making the call after people raised concerns over what they felt is the lack of clarity around recent changes to the legislation around drink driving.
The group has urged drivers to be aware that the updated provisions of the Road Traffic (Amendment) Act 2018 are in effect since October 26.
These new provisions increased the penalty for drivers detected with a blood-alcohol concentration between 50mg and 80mg from a €200 fine and three penalty points to three months disqualification from driving (plus a €200 fine).
The penalties for learner, novice and professional drivers have not changed. Penalties for drivers in these categories remain the same at three months disqualification from driving and a fine of €200.
One hundred and seventy-two (172), people were arrested for driving under the influence from Monday 19/11/2018 to Sunday 25/11/2018.— RSA Ireland (@RSAIreland) November 26, 2018
Never ever drink or drug drive. #WeeklyStats pic.twitter.com/23n84DdWF5
Last year, 8,920 drivers were arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of an intoxicant, compared to 8,067 arrests in 2016 — an increase of 11%.
According to statistics from the Road Safety Authority, alcohol is a factor in 39% of all driver fatalities.
Drinkaware CEO Sheena Horgan said the organisation has received a high volume of emails and calls from the public seeking clarity on the provisions.
“There is clearly confusion out there about the new drink-driving laws, we can see this with the volume of calls and emails we are receiving from people who are looking for clarity on the change,” said Ms Horgan.
The crucial thing to understand is that this legislation update increases the penalties for drink driving at lower alcohol levels; it does not change the legal limits,” she said.