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Minister Varadkar publishes new breath test laws for lower drink driving limits

Transport Minister Leo Varadkar has launched new laws to pave the way for tougher drink driving limits later this year.

The Road Traffic No 2 Bill will bring in mandatory breath testing at the new, lower drink driving limits which are due to be introduced in a matter of weeks.

Speaking today, Minister Varadkar said:

The combination of lower alcohol limits and mandatory testing represents a considerable toughening-up of the drink driving regime. It’s a necessary step to maintain the good work achieved so far in road safety, and to ensure that Ireland continues to make progress. Similar reductions in the blood alcohol limit in Queensland, Australia saw fatal accidents fall by 18%’.

The lower breath test limits which I will bring into force later this year will have a significant impact on road safety. This Bill will require Gardaí to breath test all drivers involved in collisions, where injuries have occurred, at the new lower levels. Gardaí will also be required to conduct a test at these levels when they suspect that a driver has consumed alcohol.

The legal blood alcohol limit will be reduced from 80mg to 50mg per 100ml of blood. Professional drivers and learner drivers will face a ‘virtually zero’ rate of 20mg per 100ml of blood. These lower limits, which were legislated for in the Road Traffic Act 2010, will be commenced by the Minister once the Road Traffic No 2 Bill has been passed by the Oireachtas, and once new testing equipment has become available in the coming weeks. As before, anyone who fails a breathalyser test will be arrested and taken from their car to a Garda Station.

Minister Varadkar added:

Last year was the safest year on the roads since recording started in 1959, with 212 people killed. Annual levels of road deaths have fallen by 50% in ten years, and a huge number of lives have been saved. Attitudes to drink driving have changed dramatically, and recorded drink driving incidents fell by 14% between 2009 to 2010. But we must do all we can to build on this good work.

Other measures included in the Bill are strengthening the offence of knowingly driving a dangerously defective vehicle, and requiring a blood or urine sample to be taken from a driver who is being treated in hospital following a collision. Furthermore, anyone who refuses to produce a driving licence within ten days will be assumed not to have a licence.

The Road Traffic No. 2 Bill can be viewed at