Page last updated at 12:24 GMT, Thursday, 22 October 2009 13:24 UK

NI drink-drive limit will be cut

Police drink drive test
The Irish government plans to cut drink driving limit

Northern Ireland's drink-driving limit will be reduced next year, Environment Minister Edwin Poots has said.

His comments follow a proposal by Irish Transport Minister Noel Dempsey to lower the legal level to 50mg per 100 ml of blood from the present 80mg.

Mr Poots said the limit north of the border could be even lower.

"The consultation would indicate that there is widespread support in Northern Ireland for reducing the drink-drive limit," he said.

"Someone who is driving at the current drink-drive limit is six times more likely to be involved in a car crash.

"There was a proposal that we might go down to 20mg for professional drivers or for young drivers.

"Again, once you go up to 50mg you are still four times more likely to be involved in an accident."

A public consultation process on the drink-driving limit, penalties and police detection powers has ended and Department of Environment officials are reviewing the evidence.

'Compelling evidence'

In the Republic, Mr Dempsey's plans were opposed by the vast majority of speakers at a meeting of the Fianna Fail parliamentary party on Tuesday night.

He has insisted he will press ahead with them, saying his proposal is supported by compelling scientific evidence.

He stressed that those convicted of driving with lower blood alcohol levels would not lose their licences, but would be fined and have penalty points applied instead.

One of his party colleagues has called for cross-border co-operation on the plans.

Fianna Fail TD Michael Kennedy said a situation could arise where a driver was under the limit in NI, then cross the border and be over it in the Republic.

A spokesman for Department of Environment in Northern Ireland said: "Officials from the department meet with their counterparts in Department of Transport on a regular basis to discuss a range of road safety issues including drink driving."

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