18 Oct 2012
In October 2012 IPH published its consultation response to the Draft Road Traffic (Drink Driving) Bill in the context of reducing the number of alcohol related road deaths and serious injuries.
In 2011, the Minister for the Environment Minister announced plans to bring forward a package of measures to help tackle drink and drug driving in Northern Ireland. Among the measures outlined, the Draft Bill included:
- New Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) limits of 50mg/100ml for most drivers and 20mg/100ml for learner, novice and professional drivers;
- A new graduated penalty regime for first offences at lower limits;
- Roadside breath tests without the need to have ‘reasonable cause to suspect’ that the driver has consumed alcohol; and
- Automatic referral onto an approved Course for Drink Drive Offenders unless a District Judge decides otherwise.
Key points from IPH response
- IPH supported the proposals to fix the legal (driving) alcohol limit to 50mg/100ml on the basis of evidence showing that this can reduce road deaths and serious injuries.
- Drink driving should continue to be a policing priority with appropriate resourcing for breath testing equipment and availability of police personnel to carry out random breath tests.
- IPH considered the graduated penalty scheme for first time offenders appropriate to the extent of the offence committed.
- It supported the introduction of a graduated penalty scheme for repeat offenders, whose first offence is between 50mg and 79mg/100ml (or 20mg and 79mg/100ml for specified drivers).
- IPH welcomed the removal of the ‘statutory opinion’ as positive move forward in terms of drink drivers avoiding a prosecution and ensuring drivers who are over the legal alcohol limit (albeit marginally) are prosecuted accordingly.
- IPH supported the introduction of a roadside evidential breath test to coincide random breath testing, as a more efficient and accurate means of identifying drink drivers and as a further deterrent for those who may consider drink driving.
Authors: Owen Metcalfe and Joanna Purdy IPH