09/11/2020

New Drink Driving Legislation Comes Into Force

New legislation to prevent suspected drink drivers from evading prosecution by delaying testing has come into effect today, Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon.

Announcing the new legislation, Minister Nichola Mallon said: "One of my priorities is to improve and promote road safety. From today, a change in law will abolish a driver's right to request a replacement blood or urine specimen where a breath specimen is marginally above the legal alcohol limit. The removal of the 'statutory option' is a much needed update to road traffic legislation in Northern Ireland.

"This right was first introduced as a safeguard at a time when breath testing equipment was a new technology and there was a need for caution. While advances in technology and rigorous testing of devices has made the requirement obsolete, up until today, drivers could still put the option to use but for the wrong reason. It can be used as a delaying tactic as the time taken to arrange a replacement sample to be taken by a doctor, means it is likely the alcohol level will have fallen since the point of detection. This can lead to rightful prosecution being successfully evaded.
News Image
"Make no mistake, drink driving can kill. There is no excuse and I want to take a zero tolerance approach. All road users deserve to feel safe and should be protected from those who recklessly get behind the wheel. This action is to help keep our roads safe and protect everyone in our community."

The Minister continued: "Keeping our roads safe is everyone's responsibility. The current Covid-19 crisis means frontline services are facing unparalleled pressures and with Christmas approaching this is a timely step in increasing the fight against drink driving and the harm it causes. However, the simple message remains, any alcohol consumption is unsafe when driving – it's not worth the risk. The only safe amount of alcohol you can have, and drive, is none. Don't risk it."

Assistant Chief Constable Jonathan Roberts added: "The Police Service welcomes the removal of the 'statutory option' from road traffic legislation in Northern Ireland. Police officers and our emergency service colleagues regularly respond to serious collisions in which people are killed and seriously injured, where the consumption of alcohol has been a factor. Our message is clear. One drink can impair. One drink can cause a collision. One drink, can cause a collision which kills or injures. Never, ever drink and drive. There is no safe limit."

Related Northern Ireland News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

17 January 2022
'Small But Viable Pipe Bomb' Made Safe In Loughguile
Police have declared a device at the centre of a security alert in Loughguile, County Antrim on Sunday morning as a "small but viable pipe bomb". Police received a report of a suspicious object in Tullyviewm off the Corkey Road at about 8:50am on Sunday 16 January.
15 December 2021
Given And O'Neill Accused Of 'Extraordinary Abdication Of Responsibility'
The SDLP has said that the absence of the First and deputy First Ministers during a crucial Assembly debate on vaccine certification was "an extraordinary abdication of responsibility".
25 June 2010
Call For Lower Drink-Drive Limit
Local doctors are calling for the Stormont Executive to consider lowering the drink drive limit to "save lives". Following this week's Daíl legislation reducing the legal blood-alcohol level from 80 to 50mg, Northern Ireland doctors said today that the law should be changed here too.
29 June 2021
Rehabilitation Training To Be Offered For All Drink Driving Convictions
Drink driving legislation has been changed to offer all those convicted of drink drive offences the opportunity to undertake rehabilitation training.
03 December 2013
PSNI Launches Winter Drink Drive Appeal
The PSNI is calling for road users to avoid drinking alcohol over the Christmas period, as it launches its annual winter drink driving appeal.