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Ireland lowers legal limit & reduces penalties at once

Ireland has introduced interesting new legislation that provides for a lower legal blood alcohol limit but reduces the penalties associated with driving drunk at the new limit.

Instead of removing a person’s ability to drive for 12 months, as is the current law, Ireland will use penalty points and fines for those close to the new reduced limit. The new limit will be reduced from 80mg to 50 mg, meaning the legal limit could be as low as one drink for a number of drivers. The new limit for young drivers and commercial drivers will be 20mg, which is the equivalent of no alcoholic drinks. 

The lower limit reduces the probability someone can be out drinking but still under the legal limit. Instead of removing a driver’s license from someone who is slightly impaired, the new law will allow anyone traveling with a blood alcohol content under 100mg to plead guilty and accept penalty points instead. 

The new policy is interesting in terms of its implications on the international level. Drunk driving laws across the world often have an impact on laws here at home. For example, Ireland is also introducing mandatory breath testing at the scene of an accident for the first time. This policy has also been considered by Canada. 

Both countries currently use the same probable cause rule we use her in the United States. Those who watch issues of human rights on the international level feel threatened by this new course abroad. If these countries begin introducing random testing without cause and can find a way to justify it, the same justifications may be used to strip legal protections domestically.

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