Belfast Telegraph

Proposed drink-drive ban 'would not save a single life'

A proposed blanket ban for drink-drivers would not save a single life on the roads, publicans have claimed.

Padraig Cribben, of the Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI), has told a parliamentary committee a report on road deaths in recent years shows no evidence that alcohol was solely to blame.

Referring to a study by the Road Safety Authority of drink-related accidents between 2008 and 2012, he said it states alcohol was a "contributory factor" in 38% of road deaths.

But he said other factors included speed, drugs, dark clothing, dangerous behaviour, fatigue and distraction.

"What we have in this report, on a very forensic analysis of it, is evidence of a presence of alcohol but no evidence that alcohol was the actual cause of the accident," he told the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Transport, Tourism and Sport.

"I put it to you that they are two very different things."

Currently, drivers caught with between 50mg and 80mg of alcohol per 100ml blood in their systems will get three penalty points and a 200 euro fine for their first offence.

Transport Minister Shane Ross wants to see harsher punishment for these levels, including a mandatory driving ban.

The measures would save 35 lives over the next five years, he has claimed.

But Mr Cribben insisted there is no evidence to support the proposal.

"We do not believe it would in actual fact contribute to saving one life," he told TDs and senators on the committee.

The VFI chief blamed an increase in road deaths over recent years on more traffic on the roads along with a corresponding "significant reduction" in Garda checkpoints.

The current penalties for drink-driving are appropriate and what is needed, rather than new legislation, is enforcement of the existing laws, he added.

"I travel 25,000 to 30,000 miles a year. I have done so probably for 40 years now, which is the guts of a million miles," he said.

"I can say I have never been breathalysed."

Mr Cribben said the VFI is clearly on record as saying it does not condone drink-driving and that the "full rigours of the law" should be brought to bear on offenders.

But he added: "We need to try to take the emotion out of this discussion and look at it as objectively as possible on the basis of evidence available."

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