RSS Feed

Irish county passes motion to let certain rural drivers drive while legally drunk

Where else but in Ireland, where the pub life is woven into the country’s cultural fabric, would this happen?

Kerry County Council passed a motion Monday night for a permit system that would allow isolated rural people to drink over the legal limit and drive home.

County Mayor Terry O’Brien, however, stands opposed, charging that the ones who voted for the motion own pubs and have a vested interest in seeing relaxed standards.

The legal limit for fully licensed drivers is 0.5 (50 milligrams of alcohol per 100ml of blood).

The motion, tabled by Councillor Danny Healy-Rae, passed by a vote of 5-3.

Usually, there are 27 councillors in the chamber but it was a long day and the debate dragged into the night. In the end, there were only 12 or 13 councillors remaining and a handful abstained, the mayor said.

“The councillor who actually moved this owns a pub,” O’Brien told the Star. “And people who voted with him also own pubs.”

Before becoming law, the motion has to be approved by the Department of Justice — O’Brien doesn’t think the government will pass it.

O’Brien told the Star he fought hard against the motion because he’s worried about more carnage on the roads of Ireland and in County Kerry, which has a population of about 145,000 in the southwest part of the country.

In tabling the motion, Healy-Rae said that people living in rural areas cannot take public transit and have limited access to taxis.

He said he wants those with permits to be able to have two or three drinks (no more than that) and be exempt from the drinking laws.

Healy-Rae told the Star that he brought the motion because his constituents wanted it because they feel “trapped in their homes.”

He referred to some of these “lonely” people who developed depression and committed suicide.

Healy-Rae owns Jackie Healy-Rae’s pub on Main St., in Kilgarvin.

The controversial motion suggested that the police would have the discretion to issue these permits to allow certain people to drink up to three pints and drive home along a rural road at no more than 30 km/h.

“How would you begin to justify who had one pint and who had two?” the mayor told the Star.

O’Brien thinks the motion could have deadly consequences.

“I cannot imagine any person having the authority or experience to be able to judge a person after two or three pints,” O’Brien told the Star. “I think it’s absolute madness.”

National statistics show that Ireland’s road deaths have been falling annually as well as the number of people who are charged with drinking while intoxicated.

The County Kerry mayor said he is sympathetic to isolated people in the rural areas.

“There’s an elderly population out there who are living alone. Unfortunately, I couldn’t support giving people this licence,” he said. “What happens when the first person is killed with this?” – News

None found.