Drink Driving Laws

New road traffic legislation which came into effect recently has amended the law in relation to a variety of road traffic offences. Particularly noteworthy is the overhaul of the law in relation to the prosecution of drink driving offences.

Under the old regime any person charged with drink driving automatically received a summons to appear before the District Court. The Acts have amended the procedure and only drivers falling into certain categories will receive a summons to appear in court.

The alcohol limit under the new regime has been reduced from 35 micrograms to 22 micrograms of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath. Where the breath alcohol level does not exceed 22 micrograms and the driver is not a “specified person” and has not had received a fine for drink-driving in the past three years, they will face a fine of €200 and three penalty points will be applied to their licence. A reading of a breath alcohol level between 22 micrograms but not exceeding 44 micrograms on a first offence will result in the driver facing a fine of €400 and a disqualification from driving for a period of six months.

The definition of a “specified person” is set out in the new regime and includes among other categories a learner driver, a taxi or public service vehicle driver, a driver who is towing a trailer in excess of 750 kg and a driver who drives a vehicle in the course of their business. These categories of drivers are subject to a lower level of 9 micrograms of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath. If a driver in this category has an alcohol level in excess 9 micrograms of alcohol but not exceeding 35 micrograms of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath they will face a fine of €200 and will be disqualified from driving for three months.

There are a number of categories where a summons will automatically issue for the driver to appear before the District Court, they include:

  • A driver who has a breathalyser reading in excess of 44 micrograms of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath.
  • A driver who is a specified person and who has a breathalyser reading in excess of 35 micrograms of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath.
  • A person who has not paid a fine in the specified time.
  • As motorists will only be able to use the lower penalty regime once in a three year period. If they are caught in excess of the limit on a second or subsequent occasion they will receive a summons to appear in court.

Second or subsequent offences may result in disqualification from driving for a period up to six years, substantial fines and or up to six months imprisonment. This depends on the level of alcohol recorded and the number of previous offences.

Penalty points received will remain on your licence for three years. If twelve penalty points are accumulated in a three year period you will be disqualified from driving for six months.

This information is for guidance purposes only. It does not constitute legal or professional advice. Professional or legal advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from any action as a result of the contents of this publication. No liability is accepted by Hammond Good, Solicitors for any action taken in reliance on the information contained therein. Any and all information is subject to change. For further information on the subject, please contact the author, Joyce A. Good Hammond, at joyce@hgs.ie