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Boylan urges Minister to introduce zero tolerance regarding alcohol and drug driving

24 October, 2007

Vice Chairperson of the Assembly's Road Safety Committee Sinn Féin MLA Cathal Boylan has once again called for a zero alcohol and drug driving limit throughout the island.

Mr Boylan was speaking after raising the issue with Environment Minister Arlene Foster.

The Newry and Armagh MLA who is also Vice-Chair of the Environment Committee, asked the Minister if she had considered introducing a zero tolerance approach to driving under the influence, and if she could elaborate on other measures she intended using in the detection of these offences.

He said,

"The Minister informed the Assembly that she is considering lowering the alcohol limit from it's present 80mg for each 100ml of blood and that the department will continue to look at the effectiveness of advertising"

"While this is to be welcomed, it falls short of Sinn Fein's overall aim of zero tolerance of alcohol and substance intake and a concentrated education programme for young drivers as envisaged in our All Ireland Road Safety policy".

"Sinn Féin is urging Government agencies in both jurisdictions to adopt a collective and cohesive road safety policy.

"It is vital that there is an all-Ireland response to the crisis on our roads. A zero alcohol and drug limit throughout the Island would eliminate both the risk and the public confusion caused by the current incompatible systems in operation on either side of the border.

"Motor vehicles become lethal weapons if operated under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Drink driving is the main contributing factor to single vehicle collisions and is a factor in more than one third of all fatal crashes. Drug driving is also on the increase" said the Sinn Féin elected representative.

He concluded by stating

"We need preventative education and good strong laws to challenge the widespread culture of impaired driving, but these are not enough. It must also become socially unacceptable to drive while impaired. We therefore must develop a widespread 'counter-culture' of designated (intoxicant-free) driving. Young people in particular have a leadership role to play in this regard, however older people also have the responsibility to lead by example. Therefore to tackle impaired driving on our roads Sinn Féin is proposing:

o A total ban on intoxicating substance intake and driving, ie a zero alcohol and drug limit, in order to eliminate both risk and public confusion.

o Adequate resources for the random breath testing regime (see also proposals on oversight of these powers in subsection below).

o Training for police services in detecting and proving drug-impaired driving. Complementary training in dealing appropriately with drivers with mental health difficulties using controlled prescription medication but who are fully entitled to drive.

o Introduce regular assessment of those on controlled prescription medication for fitness to drive. "


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