Irish publicans have reacted with scorn to new drink and driving legislation that reduced the blood alcohol limit to 50mg per 100mls of blood.

The new law has come into force this week, and it's already being called a deadly blow to the pubs of rural Ireland. In fact, some publicans warn, the new restrictions could lead to the closure of up to half the pubs in the country.

Kerry County Council member and publican Bobby O’Connell told the Irish Examiner that vintners are convinced that up to 50 percent of all Irish pubs will be forced to shut down within the next five years.

"Rural pubs are being decimated," said O'Connell. "The recession and the off-licence trade have done irreparable damage to the pub trade and now we have this."

O’Connell said that people living in rural areas, in particular the elderly, will be forced to live in total isolation now for fear of socializing at the local pub and falling foul of the new law.

"It’s very sad. How many crashes in rural areas are related to drink? Most accidents happen on national primary routes where speeds are very high.

"The fella sipping two or three pints in rural areas are driving home at normal speeds and they don’t bother anybody."

But Irish police have warned that the new laws will be vigorously enforced.

"The easiest way to avoid detection is not to drink and drive," Sergeant Kieran O’Connell of the Tralee Traffic Corps told the Examiner.


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