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New road safety laws to include lower drink-drive limit for learners

The laws will also include a new restricted licence, and putting the Road Safety Authority in charge of the driving licence system.

Image: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

DRIVERS WILL BE subject to mandatory breath testing at lower alcohol levels, while there will be a new class of ‘restricted’ driver, when new road safety laws come into place in Ireland.

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Leo Varadkar is using the publication of the Road Traffic No 2 Bill today to initiate a new approach to the legislative process.

Under the bill, a new class of novice or restricted driving licence will be created, which will apply for two years after qualifying.

These ‘R’ drivers and learner drivers will receive higher penalty points for certain offences, including exceeding the speed limit, driving while not wearing a safety belt and using a mobile phone while driving.

There will also be a lower drink-drive limit for such drivers – 20mg per 100ml of blood.

The lower blood alcohol level for non-restricted drivers will be 50mg per 100ml of blood, down from 80mg of alcohol per 100ml.

It is expected the new levels will come into place this autumn, once all the related evidential breath testing equipment is in place for the new levels and the gardaí have been trained in them.

The lower limits have been passed and enacted but cannot be commenced until the draft bill is passed.

Also under the draft bill, plastic card driving licences will be introduced to  comply with EU requirements.

The Road Safety Authority will be put in charge of the driving licence system and the testing of commercial vehicles for roadworthiness.

Vehicles deemed non-roadworthy can be detained or destroyed under the bill.

Local authorities will also be allowed to provide parking and charging bays for electric vehicles.

Minister Varadkar said:

This is the second piece of road traffic legislation that I have initiated this year, reflecting my intention to build on the momentum of recent years. We need to make travelling safer and we must not lose focus.

He described the bill as an “important step” in improving parliamentary democracy.

The draft bill will be presented to the Oireachtas committee on the Environment, Transport, Culture and Gaeltacht today, who will submit their views on the plans within a month.

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