22 Jun 2016
New provisions to tackle the harm caused by drink driving in Northern Ireland were included in the Road Traffic (Amendment) Bill that completed its passage through the NI Assembly in January 2016.
The provisions include two new lower drink drive limits, the lowest of which will apply to novice and professional drivers, together with a new graduated penalty regime. The Bill also provides for new police powers which will increase the likelihood of being stopped and tested. It also ensures that a greater number of drink drivers will complete the drink drive rehabilitation course.
A programme of subordinate legislation is now required to enable implementation of the new arrangements.
Key points from IPH response
- The Institute of Public Health in Ireland (IPH) supports for the Road Traffic (Drink Driving) Bill 2016 and welcomes the introduction of new lower drink driving limits in line with Republic of Ireland, Scotland and other EU countries.
- Consistency and uniformity within drink driving limits across the island of Ireland will help facilitate and support enforcement of drinking driving laws and remove ambiguity for drivers in border areas.
- The population burden of injury, disability and mortality associated with drink driving related road traffic collisions remains significant. Lowering drink driving limits is an important progressive step in seeking to address this road safety and public health issue.
- IPH supports the Department’s approach to introducing of fixed penalties for lower level drink driving offences notices as outlined in the consultation document, in keeping with the fixed penalty notices for other driving offences.
- IPH welcomes the opportunity for convicted drivers to complete the Course for Drink Driving Offenders (CDDO) to highlight the severity of the offence and educate drinkers about the risks of drink driving, the consequences of recidivist behaviour as well as harms to themselves and others.
- IPH recommends that screening or assessment of alcohol consumption patterns and alcohol dependency issues is conducted. A clear and structured referral pathway to services for high risk offenders is an essential part of the rehabilitation process. There are many hidden harms associated the alcohol consumption which have a significant effect on children and family members. IPH would suggest that these potential harms should form part of the assessment.