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Tougher drink drive laws in Northern Ireland for professional drivers

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Northern Ireland is to introduce a two-tier drink drive law, with learner and professional drivers facing a lower limit.

The limit in England and Wales is currently 80mg of alcohol in every 100ml of blood. Under the new Road Traffic (Amendment) Bill, Northern Ireland will be lowering its limit to 50mg per 100ml, in line with Scotland, who toughened up their limit last year.

But professional and learner drivers will face a limit that is lower still, of 20mg per 100ml.

The bill also includes more police powers for breath tests, graduated penalties and automatic referral of drink drive offenders onto an approved course.

Environment minister Mark H Durkan said: “Last year seventy four people lost their lives on our roads. We cannot, if at all possible, let this carnage continue. What I have done in this Bill is to get to the root causes of the problem. That means tougher drink drive laws. That means ensuring our new drivers are better drivers. That means putting less young people at risk in the hands of novice drivers.”

It is expected to be introduced from 2018.

RAC chief engineer David Bizley said: “The RAC welcomes news that new road safety measures have been passed today by the Northern Ireland Assembly.

"Lower drink drive limits are supported by motorists, with more than half - 56% - of motorists supporting a reduction in the blood-alcohol limit to 50mg/100ml or less from the current 80mg/100ml level according to the 2015 RAC Report on Motoring.

"If the lower limits in Northern Ireland and Scotland result in fewer road traffic accident casualties, the UK Government should follow suit and adopt the lower limit across the England and Wales.

“The focus on professional drivers in particular demonstrates a pragmatic approach to law-making, by recognising the high number of commercial vehicles there are on the roads, and the importance of ensuring those drivers are safe at all times.

“The introduction of a new Graduated Driver Licensing Scheme in Northern Ireland is also a positive move in an effort to improve the skills of young drivers and to cut the number of young drivers involved in road traffic collisions.

"Young drivers make up a small proportion of UK licence holders, but are involved in a disproportionately high number of fatal and serious accidents.

"If the system is a success, this should encourage the UK Government to consider introducing similar measures in Great Britain in order to help reduce young driver casualties.”


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