The Northern Ireland Assembly is in Recess until the 30th of August. The Business Committee will meet on the 1st of September and the First Plenary Sitting is the 7th of September.

Committee Welcomes Tougher Stance on Drink Driving

Synopsis: The Committee for the Environment has welcomed the Minister’s announcement that, under proposed new legislation, a minimum 3-year disqualification period for drink driving will apply to all repeat offenders, irrespective of alcohol levels.

Session: 2012/2013

Date: 17 May 2013

Reference: ENV 12/12/13

The Committee for the Environment has welcomed the Minister's announcement that, under proposed new legislation, a minimum 3-year disqualification period for drink driving will apply to all repeat offenders, irrespective of alcohol levels.

The Department was considering two proposals for dealing with repeat drink-drive offenders with a blood alcohol level above the proposed new lower limit but below the old limit. The first proposal was the introduction of a graduated penalty scheme and the second was a 3-year disqualification. Following representations from the Committee, the Minister has now signalled that he will be taking forward the second, tougher option in the legislation — an automatic 3-year disqualification regardless of blood alcohol levels.

Chairperson of the Committee, Anna Lo MLA, said: "The Committee is very pleased that the Minister has taken on board its views on this issue. We have serious concerns that a graduated penalty scheme for repeat offenders would not be an effective deterrent. We also feel that a graduated scheme would be complicated and difficult to administer, and we are glad that this has been recognised. Most importantly, the Committee feels that a 3-year ban would show clearly that there is zero tolerance when it comes to drink driving.

Ms Lo concluded, "We want people to have confidence that Government is taking a strong stance on this issue. We have lost too many lives to drink driving over the years. Drivers must be sent a clear message that anyone who drives when over the limit will face tough sanctions."

ENDS

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