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Home > Dail Eireann debate. Road Traffic Bill 2016 [Seanad]: Report stage (resumed).

[Oireachtas] Dail Eireann debate. Road Traffic Bill 2016 [Seanad]: Report stage (resumed). (14 Dec 2016)

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Deputy Shane Ross: However, there are difficulties with the drafting and there would be, quite understandably, unintended consequences if we were to accept them in their entirety. I am learning on the job myself that road traffic legislation is extremely complicated and very difficult to get right. If there are any drafting problems, this can give rise to unintended consequences which we cannot accept and obviously cannot allow into law. That said, I am happy to work with those Deputies who have tabled amendments which we cannot accept for those reasons. I am happy to push them further and include their provisions in future road traffic Bills. There are almost always road traffic Bills pending or being drafted by officials in my Department.


I will now remind the House of what the law already says on drug driving. It is an offence under the Road Traffic Act 2010 to drive a mechanically propelled vehicle while under the influence of any intoxicant to such an extent as to be incapable of controlling the vehicle. The law covers legal and illegal drugs. If gardaí find a person driving while intoxicated, a specimen will be taken for testing by the Medical Bureau of Road Safety, MBRS. The bureau tests for 42 different drugs. This covers the whole range of drugs likely to be found and to cause intoxication in drivers.


The law as it stands also has quite a different offence in it, namely, driving while over the limit for alcohol. In this case, the prosecution needs to prove only that a driver was over the legal limit, not that he or she was actually impaired. This Bill is putting three drugs, cannabis, cocaine and heroin on the same basis as alcohol by setting legal limits for drivers for these drugs. It will be an offence to be driving while over this limit without any need to prove impairment. This is a major step forward in Irish law. It will still be an offence to be impaired due to any other drug and as I said, the bureau's wide-ranging tests will identify all likely drugs.


I have selected three drugs, cannabis, cocaine and heroin, based on the best scientific advice. I am not sure why Deputy Troy believes that my proposals are based on 16 year old evidence. They are based on detailed discussions with the MBRS during 2015 and further ongoing discussions with the bureau since then. The bureau's advice is clear. Setting specific levels for drugs is extremely difficult and inevitably the evidence base for drug driving internationally lags far behind what is available for dealing with alcohol. The bureau is clear that it is possible to set scientifically reliable levels for these three drugs now but not for others. It is not that we do not want to include other drugs. We do and we will, as and when the scientific basis for doing so exists. The time is not yet right and the evidence basis is not yet there to extend the list today.....

Item Type
Dail Debates
Publication Type
Drug Type
Alcohol, Cannabis, Cocaine, Opioid
Intervention Type
Harm reduction, Policy
14 December 2016

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