Committee Expresses Concern at Graduated Penalties for Drink Driving

Synopsis: The Northern Ireland Assembly Committee for the Environment today expressed concern at proposals for legislation to establish a graduated penalty scheme for those who reoffend under new drink driving limits.

Session: 2012/2013

Date: 14 March 2013

Reference: ENV 09/12/13

The Northern Ireland Assembly Committee for the Environment today expressed concern at proposals for legislation to establish a graduated penalty scheme for those who reoffend under new drink driving limits. 

Currently, there is a three year penalty for repeat drink driving offences when committed within ten years. As part of the forthcoming legislation that will lower the drink driving limit, the new graduated sanction scheme for repeat offenders would impose lesser penalties for those who are above the new limit but below the old one.  The Committee would like to see this three-year sanction applied directly to the new lower blood alcohol limits when they are introduced.

Chairperson of the Committee, Anna Lo MLA, said: “The Committee is concerned that this new graduated approach will be confusing, hard to administer and leave room for ambiguity. We urge the Minister to think very carefully about the message that will be given out by offering a graduated approach to penalising repeat offenders.

Ms Lo concluded, “The whole point of lowering the drink drive limit is to give a clear signal that it is unacceptable to drink and drive. We can understand the proposal for a graduated approach to penalising drivers who offend at the new lower limit for the first time, but introducing a graduated approach to repeat offenders would discourage first time offenders from learning from their mistake.”  

ENDS

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