Irish council approves drink-driving


road linking County Kerry and County Cork

Councillors in County Kerry have approved a motion enabling drinkers in the area to be issued with permits that will allow them to have 'two or three' drinks before getting in their cars and driving home. They argued that special rules ought to apply given the nature of the roads and the drinkers in the area.

So what possible reason can they have for such a strange move, will this now become law, and will it hit car insurance?

The motion

According to the Irish Independent the motion was passed after councillor (and pub owner) Danny Healy-Rae argued that most people in the area were "travelling very minor roads ... with very little traffic". He also argued that people in isolated rural areas risked getting lonely and depressed if they weren't able to get to the local pub to catch up with friends.

The motion was carried by five votes to three. The newspaper reported that three of the five were also publicans, and that one was Healy-Rae's son. Seven councillors abstained and 12 were not present.


The idea has been met with shock. Conor Cullen of Alcohol Action Ireland told the BBC: "Those in rural areas who may be suffering from isolation will not benefit from putting their lives and the lives of the other members of their community at risk by drinking and driving."

Ireland has some serious drink-driving statistics. According to Alcohol Ireland, one in three crash deaths is alcohol-related. It also says that between 2003 and 2005 around 120 people were killed each year in alcohol-related crashes.

According to the Road Safety Authority in Ireland, 18,053 drivers were arrested on suspicion of drink driving in 2008. That's an average of around 347 drivers each week.

It also highlights that in County Kerry in 2011 there were 7 deaths and 244 injuries as a result of drink driving. It adds that most deaths from drink driving are in rural areas.


Clearly, issuing permits to allow people to drive after drinking is not going to improve these statistics.

Insurers price their policies according to risk. It's incredibly difficult to get insurance after being banned for drink driving, so there's every chance that most insurers would refuse cover to people with permits. Those who continued to offer insurance would do so at a huge cost.

If drivers in a particular area were being handed out permits to allow them to drink drive, then the premiums of everyone on the road in the area would shoot up too.

However, the good news is that this vote doesn't mean the rule can automatically be applied locally. It now passes to Minister for Justice Alan Shatter, who will consider the motion and its implications. He is widely expected to dismiss the suggestion.

But what do you think? Does the council have a point, or is this madness? Let us know in the comments.

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