Home > New drink driving limits and penalties in Ireland.

Mongan, Deirdre (2012) New drink driving limits and penalties in Ireland. Drugnet Ireland, Issue 40, Winter 2011, pp. 23-24.

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The drink drive limit in Ireland was recently reduced and is now in line with European levels. The new Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) limit is 50 milligrams (mg) for all drivers, and 20mg for specified drivers, defined as learner or newly qualified drivers (for a period of two years after passing their driving test) or professional drivers (of buses, goods vehicles and public service vehicles).

A new penalty system has been introduced to deal with offences that come under the new limits. Under the previous system, all drink driving offences were dealt with in the courts and those who were convicted were automatically disqualified from driving. Under the new system, a driver who fails a preliminary breath test at the roadside will still be arrested and required to provide an evidential breath, blood, or urine specimen at a Garda station. However, if the driver’s BAC does not exceed 100mg and they are not already disqualified from holding a driving licence at the time of detection or have not availed of the administrative fixed penalty notice option in the preceding three years, he or she will be served with a fixed penalty notice (Table 1). A driver can only avail of the fixed penalty option once in a three-year period.

Court proceedings will not be initiated if the driver pays the fixed charge and accepts the penalty. If a driver does not accept the fixed penalty notice and goes to court and is unsuccessful in appealing, the penalties are increased; for first offences where the BAC does not exceed 80mg a six-month disqualification period applies, while a one-year disqualification period applies for offences where the BAC is 80–100mg.  

Where the BAC detected is above 100mg, or above 80mg for a specified person, where the person is not eligible to be served with a fixed penalty notice, or where payment has not been made in respect of a fixed penalty notice, the court penalties relating to disqualification from driving outlined in Table 2 apply on conviction. In addition, the court may apply a fine up to of €5,000 and/or six months in prison.

Further information on the new drink driving limits may be obtained from the Road Safety Authority www.rsa.ie or from the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport www.transport.ie.

Item Type
Publication Type
Irish-related, Open Access, Article
Drug Type
Intervention Type
Harm reduction, Crime prevention
Issue Title
Issue 40, Winter 2011
January 2012
Page Range
pp. 23-24
Health Research Board
Issue 40, Winter 2011
Accession Number
HRB (Electronic Only)

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