Belfast Telegraph

Drink-drive limit to be slashed to align Northern Ireland with Europe

By Amanda Ferguson

The drink-drive alcohol limit is to be slashed by nearly 40% in the first major shake-up in the law here since it was introduced in 1968.

Stormont Environment Minister Mark H Durkan said our laws would be brought into line with Europe. Under the plans, the permitted blood alcohol limit would be reduced to just 50mg of alcohol in 100ml of blood – down from the current UK limit of 80mg.

The legislation proposes a number of other measures on drink-driving, including a new blood-alcohol limit of 20mg per 100ml for learners, novice motorists and professional drivers.

It is thought the bill could become law by early 2015.

Other new legislative proposals will affect driver training and testing.

The plans include a mandatory minimum learning period of 12 months while holding a provisional licence and newly qualified drivers being restricted for two years rather than one.

It is also proposed the 45mph speed limit currently in place for learners and restricted drivers would be removed.

Instead, driving test candidates would be assessed while driving at particular speeds.

It is further proposed that the age people can apply for a provisional licence would be reduced from 17 to 16-and-a-half, while learner drivers would be allowed to take lessons on motorways.

Introducing the Road Traffic (Amendment) Bill to the Assembly yesterday, Mr Durkan said: "Radical measures are necessary if we are to pursue an ambition of zero road deaths. This new legislation will tackle drivers who shamelessly continue to drink and drive. It will provide powers to radically overhaul how we train, test and protect our vulnerable new drivers.

"It will also reduce the risk to riders of quads on public roads by requiring them to wear helmets."

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