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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