Lower Drink Drive Limits

Lower Drink Drive Limits

We’ve changed how we use the road. Collectively, Ireland has made a decision to wake up to unnecessary deaths on the road, and together, we’ve saved 1105 lives in the past decade.  Changing our attitude to drink driving has played a big part in this achievement.

Just over ten years ago, less than a third of people subscribed to the view that there is simply no amount of alcohol you can drink if driving. Last year, the same question was asked, and more than two thirds of people agreed with this statement.

We’ve come a long way, and as a consequence, we’ve saved the population of an entire town in the last decade compared to the ten years previous. Our campaign to highlight the new changes in the drink drive limit looks at the town of Kilkee in Co. Clare – a town with a population slightly less than the number we’ve saved – 1024.

This hopeful message is a thank you to the people of Ireland for making these changes on the road, and coincides with the reduction of the blood alcohol levels for drink driving. We are saying: ‘Thank you for all the good work up to now. But, with reductions in the drink drive limit, we will be able to save even more lives.’

What’s happening?

The drink drive limit which has come down in line with Europe, will see the current limit drop from 80 milligrams (mg) to 50 milligrams (mg) for all drivers and from 80 milligrams (mg) to 20 milligrams (mg) for learner, newly qualified drivers (for a period of two years after passing the driving test) and professional drivers such as bus, goods vehicle and public service vehicle drivers (PSV).

The lowering of the drink drive limit will see the introduction of a new Administrative Penalty System to deal with offences under the new limits. In all cases, if a driver fails a preliminary breath test at the road side he or she will be arrested and required to provide an evidential breath, blood or urine specimen at a Garda station. Over these limits you face a fine, and risk penalty points, disqualification - or worse. (View penalties applying to new lower drink drive limits).

The New Campaign

In the new TV campaign the action in the ad looks at the town of Kilkee absent of people. There is a thoughtful feeling – almost wondering what it would be like if these thousand people had have died. What would have happened to their friends? Families? Communities? As the voiceover speaks to us, however, we see that all of these people are actually here, living a full and rich life. The ad is a celebration of what we have all done on the road. It’s a celebration of life which otherwise mightn’t have been. 

The key anti drink driving measures over the last decade

  • 2000  First all island anti drink driving shock advert ‘Shame’ is aired on TV 
  • 2005  Second all island anti drink driving shock advert ‘Just One’ is aired on TV
  • 2006  Introduction of Mandatory Alcohol Testing
  • 2007  Introduction of stricter penalties for drink driving offences
  • 2009  Draft legislation to lower the drink driving limit published
  • 2010  Legislation to lower the drink driving limit passed.
  • 2011  Mandatory testing at collision scenes where someone has been injured introduced.
  • 2011 Drink drive limit lowered to 50 mg & 20 mg, in line with the rest of Europe.

For further research and information visit our Drink Driving campaign page.

Read official press release.

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The Key Facts on Drink Driving in Ireland

There is no disputing the scientific evidence which proves that even at low levels, alcohol impairs drivers. International experience has demonstrated the positive reductions in fatalities that result from implementing reduced drink drive limits.

  • In 1 in 4 fatal crashes, the driver had consumed alcohol
  • Any alcohol impairs driving and increases the risk of collision.
  • At half the current limit (0.8 milligrams), drivers are twice as likely to be involved in a collision. At the current limit (0.8 milligrams) drivers are six times more likely to have a collision.
  • Alcohol is twice as potent when you are a tired driver.
  • Almost 1 in 5 drivers killed on our roads, where alcohol was present, were under the current legal limit (0.8 milligrams) when they died.
  • Any amount of alcohol impairs driving and increases risk – so the only safe advice is to Never, Ever Drink and Drive.
  • All of the available evidence from research indicates that reducing the legal limit of BAC from the current limit of 0.08 to 0.05 will reduce the risk of being involved in a road traffic collision, and consequently will save lives and prevent serious injuries.
  • Every fatal road crash in Ireland costs the state €2.5 million.