NI: MLAs approve road traffic laws to tackle drink driving and accidents
The Northern Ireland Assembly has approved far-reaching legislation designed to tackle drink driving by introducing tighter restrictions, a graduated penalty scheme and greater police powers.
The Road Traffic (Amendment) Bill provides for two new lower drink driving limits, the lowest of which will apply to novice and professional drivers.
It also provides for a graduated penalty scheme where the penalty for an individual offence reflects the amount of alcohol involved, and grants police powers to establish roadside checkpoints to provide for more routine breath checking.
Northern Ireland’s Environment Minister Mark H Durkan said: “It remains an unfortunate fact that some people think that they can continue to drink and drive. I believe that the introduction of lower limits, more routine checking and proportionate penalties represents an effective deterrent.”
The bill also introduces new provisions aimed at reducing accidents involving “young and inexperienced drivers”.
It sets out a Graduated Driver Licensing scheme (GDL), a mandatory 6 month minimum learning period for learner drivers, and the introduction of a programme of training, to be evidenced by a logbook.
The bill removes the current 45mph restriction for learner and restricted drivers to enable lessons on motorways when accompanied by an approved driving instructor in a dual-controlled car.
Under the law, new young drivers will also be restricted to carrying only one young passenger aged 14-20 between the hours of 11pm and 6am for the first six months after they pass their test.