Reduced drink driving limit puts Ireland further in the grip of over-regulation


News that Ireland is to reduce its drink-driving limit to just 50mg of alcohol/ 100ml of blood is yet another mark on the road Ireland is blazing towards becoming a Nanny State.

It seems like as each year goes by another personal liberty is snatched by our Government.

Two years ago the powers-that-be in Dublin forced all liquor stores to close by 10pm; the recently announced Criminal Justice (Psychoactive Substances) Bill seeks to make illegal any substance with any alternation upon the Central Nervous System, and now even one drink may put you over the drink-driving limit!

Ireland is now a country in the grip of a regulation epidemic, where over-zealous domestic policy-making is compounded by a constant inundation of mandatory EU law. The result is a society that’s moving in an increasingly restrictive direction, and one which anyone who values their liberty and personal freedom should seek to leave.

Lest it be thought that I’m advocating drink driving and drug use, let me tell you that’s not the case.

When it comes to law-making, there’s a difficult balance to be struck between respecting peoples’ liberties and curtailing them for the better good. Yet the Irish government in recent years has shown a persistent slant towards legislative heavy-handedness which is detracting from our rights as citizens of a free democracy.

Liquor stores should be allowed open whenever they want. The draconian measure of forcing their closure by 10pm reeks of a style of governance better suited to the Middle Ages. If we really care so much about eliminating anti-social behaviour and curbing alcoholism, let’s tackle the problems head on by imposing stricter public order fines and initiating better alcohol treatment programs, rather than spoil all of society’s rights to pick up a bottle of wine at 10:30pm, which should almost be unalienable.

The psychoactive substances Bill was cut from much the same cloth as the Intoxicating Liquor Act. True, the scourge of head-shops and their legal highs needs to be eliminated with haste, but drafting legislation in such sweeping terms that any psychoactive herb becomes illegal is solving the problem at too great a cost for the law-abiding majority. Many alternative health seekers consume herbs which are mildly psychoactive, and often find such herbs to be safer treatments to pharmaceuticals which are often ridden with myriad side-effects. Such herbs, as well as useless ‘legal highs’ will soon be illegalized.

And lastly we have this latest measure. True, nobody wants to advocate drink driving, but the new law hits learner drivers far too hard than is necessary. Learners who have a concentration of just 20mg/100ml of alcohol in their bloodstreams will face a three month driving ban as well as a €200 fine. To get that kind of blood alcohol limit one would merely need to chug through one-third of a pint of beer. Should that really engender those consequences?

In trying to cut out drink driving Ireland’s national police force, the Gardai, would do better to focus their efforts on more extensive and persistent breathalyzing to catch real dangers rather than trying to put learners off the road for having committed the sin of driving after having had half a pint of beer!

This latest law annoys me not just in itself, for lowering the drink-driving limit to a needlessly and inconveniently low level, but also for the fact that it’s yet another example of the Irish government over-regulating an already heavily regulated society. One of the costs to Ireland of EU membership was subscribing to a second legal order and agreeing to take as law that legal order’s legislative output.

The least we can do is make sure our own law-making is a bit more libertarian!

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