Belfast Telegraph

Drink drive limit to be halved

The drink-drive limit is to be almost halved for most drivers under the biggest shake-up in the law for 40 years.

Random breath testing will enforce the tough new limits.

At present many people can have at least one drink and drive.

Environment minister Alex Attwood said: "There is widespread public support for a step change in how we deal with drink drivers and I believe that what I am proposing will make a real difference."

The blood alcohol limit will fall to 50mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood for most drivers, from 80mg. It will be 20mg for young or inexperienced motorists or those who drive for a living.

Others proposals from Mr Attwood include a graduated penalty regime including fixed penalties for first offences at lower limits and random breath testing powers which would enable police to breathalyse drivers without the need to have reasonable suspicion that the driver had taken alcohol.

The proposals also include automatic referral of offenders to an approved drink drive rehabilitation scheme and removal of the right, in certain circumstances, to ask for a blood or urine sample to replace a breath test sample.

Over the last five years 75 people have been killed and 473 seriously injured by drivers impaired by drink or drugs.

Mr Attwood added: "This is totally unacceptable and I am determined to do what I can to tackle this issue once and for all."

Subject to Executive agreement, the Department of Environment intends to have drink drive legislation ready for public consultation by March 2012.

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