Saturday, 26 January 2013

Take me home country roads

Councillors in County Kerry in the west of Ireland have voted in favour of asking the Irish government to introduce a relaxation of the drink-drive limit for rural areas. Ireland reduced its limit from 80mg to 50mg in 2011 and, not surprisingly, the move has led to a sharp fall in trade for rural pubs, already reeling from the impact of the smoking ban. The petition has minimal chance of success, but it underlines how cutting the limit has cast a grey blanket of Puritanism over social life outside major towns and cities, just as it would on this side of the Irish Sea. For the most part, Ireland is a far-flung, rural country, and the available trade for such rural pubs as remain must now be very thin pickings.

The cut is defended as a road safety measure, but in reality the vast majority of drink-related casualties have always been caused by people well over the previous limit, and the additional risk for drivers in the 50-80 mg band varies between zero and very little. The people who cheerfully ignored the previous law will continue to do so, while the law-abiding will sit miserably at home over a few cans of Guinness or a bottle of whiskey, missing the companionship of the pub. Many will have been happy to enjoy a couple of legal pints with their friends, but if restricted to just the one will conclude the trip is no longer worthwhile.

The proposal isn’t entirely far-fetched, as there is a precedent for having different limits in different areas within the same country – until fairly recently, this applied between different states of the USA, and of course it will be the case if and when Alex Salmond cuts the limit in Scotland.


  1. I completely agree. The idiots who drive when well over the current limit will continue to do so even if the limit was reduced to zero. They might even be more encouraged to through a misguided sense of roguishness.

  2. I imagine the amount of drink-drive enforcement in the wilds of Kerry is pretty limited, but even so most people (quite understandably) do not wish to knowingly break the law and take a risk.

  3. Of course, pubs are the single most important thing all legislation ought to consider. Let's allow pissheads to mow down pedestrians. If it saves but one pub. Will somebody please think of the pubs?

  4. Strawman there, Cookie, I think...

  5. You do not need to relax the law in rural areas, Mudge. It is illegal to f*ck your sister in town & country. Doesn't stop the cider drinking bumkins, though. The law ought to apply to all equally. Some choose to live in the sticks because blind eyes are turned. Heh ho.

  6. Professor Pie-Tin27 January 2013 at 22:02

    It might help readers to understand that the Healey-Raes, the family behind this publicity stunt, are pub-owning and elected representatives both locally and nationally.
    Drink-driving in rural Ireland is actually a major contributor to the annual tally of road deaths and I can't think of a single Irish person I know here who isn't profoundly embarrassed by this story which has gone round the world and once again stereotyped Irish people as feckless drunks.

  7. Well said Prof. Publicans here in Ireland own their own pubs unlike some / most in the UK. They are an extremely effective and powerful lobby group at parlimentary level. They blame all and sundry for their loss of business but for the most part do nothing to attract new business. The vast majority of pubs sell the same tired range of well kown brands. If they were so concerned about the mental health of the local community could they not offer free soft drinks to a designated driver or split the cost of a mini bus taxi service. Pigs may fly.

  8. The logical and moral flaw of drink-driving laws.
    two people driving perfectly safely, one has had a drink, one has not. One is a criminal the other isn't.

    two people cause a death by dangerous driving . One receives a stiffer sentence because he has had a drink.

    The only law we need is that people drive safely. A law which treats two classes people that have committed the same offence is by any definition, morally repugnant.

    Drink-driving laws are nothing to with driving, but everything to do with Puritanism.

  9. That is bollocks, John. Intent is difficult to ascertain but when possible relevant. It is the difference between manslaughter and murder.

    Choosing to take an intoxicant you know will impair your performance prior to driving is a relevant factor in the crime committed. It may not show intent to cause harm but it does show the criminal had a lack of consideration for those potentially harmed.


Comments, especially on older posts, may require prior approval by the blog owner. See here for details of my comment policy.

Please register an account to comment. To combat persistent trolling, unregistered comments are liable to be deleted unless I recognise the author. If you intend to make more than the occasional comment using an unregistered ID, you will need to tell me something about yourself.