While it might not impact us here in California, or even the United States, I often like to see what’s going on in other parts of the world with regard to DUI law and/or news stories. It seems there may soon be another reason to visit the Emerald Isle; you’ll be less likely to be arrested for drunk driving in Ireland after visiting Guinness Brewery.
Lawmakers in a rural county of southern Ireland voted, by a 5 to 3 margin, to allow local Irish police to allow moderate drunk driving. This means that people in Kerry County, Ireland can drive their vehicles above Ireland’s normal legal limit which is 50mg per 100ml of blood, the equivalent of a 0.05 percent blood alcohol content.
What could possibly be the justification for loosening the drunk driving laws?
According to the author of the motion, Councilor Danny Healy-Rae, “older” residents are becoming isolated in their homes as a result of the lack of public transportation and a fear of losing their driver’s license if they go out and have a few drinks. The isolation, according to Healy-Rae, is causing depression and in some cases suicide.
“I see the merit in having a stricter rule of law for when there’s a massive volume of traffic and where there’s busy roads with massive speed,” Healy-Rae told Irish internet news publication TheJournal.ie. “But on the roads I’m talking about, you couldn’t do any more than 20 or 30 miles per hour and it’s not a big deal. I don’t see any big issue with it.”
As expected there were many opponents of the motion, one of which was Kerry Mayor Terry O’Brien. O’Brien said the law is “incredibly dangerous” and that it “doesn’t make any sense.”
Another opponent is Alcohol Action Ireland rep Conor Cullen. “Almost one in three crash deaths in Ireland is alcohol related,” Cullen told the BBC. “Even in small amounts, alcohol impairs driving ability – any amount of alcohol increases the risk of involvement in a fatal crash.”
Healy-Rae’s response to the opposition? “I know there’ll be opposition. I know that it will be people in urban areas who have access to different outlets than the pub, but in rural parishes, that’s well we have – we don’t have anything else. All they want to do [here] is talk to neighbours [sic], talk to friends, play cards, talk about the match and the price of cattle, about such a lady going out with such a fella, and it’s harmless.”