Drink driving offences

Question

I’ve heard the law around drink driving changed recently. What has changed?

Answer

Yes, the law around drink driving has changed. Since 26 October 2018, under the Road Traffic (Amendment) Act 2018, drivers who previously got 3 penalty points for certain drink driving offences will now be disqualified from driving for 3 months instead.

It is an offence to drive in a public place if the level of alcohol in your blood, breath or urine is above the prescribed alcohol limit. There are different alcohol limits for new drivers and experienced drivers. New drivers are drivers with learner permits or drivers who have held a driving licence for 2 years or less, or people without a valid licence or permit.

Drink driving offences can be dealt with through the administrative penalty system or the court system. However, the administrative penalty system only applies in certain cases, for example, where the driver has a valid licence or permit and their alcohol intake is below a certain level. The recent legislation changes the additional penalty for experienced drivers found with the lowest levels of alcohol in their system. These levels are:

  1. 51mg to 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood
  2. 68mg to 107mg of alcohol per 100ml of urine
  3. 23mg to 35mg of alcohol per 100ml of breath

Previously, experienced drivers found with these levels of alcohol would be fined €200, and get an additional penalty of 3 penalty points. Now, these drivers will get the same €200 fine, but will also be disqualified from driving for 3 months.