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'A non-runner': Ross dismisses idea of giving banned drink drivers exemptions to drive to work

The Sunday Business Post reported that the government is set to examine such proposal.

Image: Shutterstock/Sangaroon

Updated Mar 5th 2019, 10:50 AM

MINISTER FOR TRANSPORT Shane Ross has said proposals to allow convicted drink-drivers who are banned from the road to get an exemption so they can drive to work are a “non-runner”. 

The Sunday Business Post reported last weekend that junior transport minister Brendan Griffin has asked officials to study a system currently operating in New Zealand. 

In New Zealand, banned drivers can apply for an exemption if a driving ban causes them “extreme hardship”, such as a need to get to work.

“I have asked officials to come back to me on it,” Griffin said. “I am happy to consider and look at proposals.”

Applicants for a limited licence in New Zealand have to apply to a court and prove that not being able to drive causes extreme hardship to themselves or undue hardship to someone else, such as an employer or dependents. 

The report states that the proposal is expected to be strongly opposed by the Road Safety Authority. It also states that campaigners for the limited licence believe it should only applied to drivers convicted at the “lower drink-driving range”. 

In a statement to Virgin Media’s Tonight Show, Minister Ross said “this idea is a non-runner”. 

“Absolutely no question of countenancing any idea of exempting anyone. This idea is a non-runner,” Ross said. 

“If the vinters want to suggest ways of stopping driving drinking alcohol, let’s hear them,” he said. 

The Bill will not be amended. No exceptions. We have introduced lifesaving legislation. We will not be diluting it. 

Speaking to the media yesterday, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said that his initial sense is that he’d be “sceptical about it as a proposal that’s workable”. 

“If someone is banned from driving they’re banned for a reason. If you were to make an exception around travelling to and from work I’d wonder about the enforceability of that,” Varadkar said. 

How would you establish whether they were or not going to and from work? What if their job involved driving around the place, if they were a GP or a public health nurse or a taxi driver?

“Then you would probably have knock on effects from people looking for other reasons as to why they should be allowed to drive, because they have to look after a sick relative or they have a child with a disability,” he said. 

“My initial sense is one of scepticism.”

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