A county council in Ireland passed a motion January 21 to hand out permits to certain people to drive home with a higher-than-legal blood-alcohol concentration — to legally drive drunk.
If the new law is approved by Ireland's Department of Justice, police in southwest Ireland's Kerry County will be able to issue permits to rural residents to drive home at no more than 30 km/h after having no more than three pints of alcohol.
The Kerry County councillor who tabled the motion – which netted a vote of 5-to-3 in favour – said the permits were justified because some of his rural constituents felt "trapped in their homes" by their inability to drive home from the pub, reports the Toronto Star.
The transit system doesn't service all rural areas in the county, and taxi access can be limited out there, explained Councillor Danny Healy-Rae. Some rural residents feel so isolated they may even become depressed and commit suicide, he argued.
But the county mayor, Terry O’Brien, stands viciously opposed to the motion. He's pointed out the councillors who voted in favour of the motion have a vested interest in seeing it passed since most own pubs, including Healy-Rae.
While O'Brien doesn't think the government will allow the motion to become law, he's worried what'll happen if they do.
“Unfortunately, I couldn’t support giving people this licence," O'Brien is quoted in the Star. "What happens when the first person is killed with this?”
The mayor said he is sympathetic to the needs of his rural constituents, but also that he doubts anyone, even a police officer, can accurately gauge someone's capacity to drive after two or three pints.
The legal BAC for fully licenced drivers is 0.05 (50 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood) in Kerry County, which has a population of 145,000. National statistics in Ireland point to a steady drop in the number of convicted drunk drivers year over year, as well as a fall in road deaths, reports the Star.
(via the Toronto Star)