Drink driving limit could be relaxed in south-west IrelandPA

The notion of relaxing the drink-driving limit may seem insane to some but a handful of Kerry county councillors believe it will help integrate certain "isolated" constituents back into society.

Councillor Danny Healy-Rae, who proposed allowing police to issue permits overriding the legal limit, said it would apply to "older people" who "are being isolated now at home, and a lot of them falling into depression".

Mr Healy-Rae told Irish news outlet The Journal the people he thought could apply for the permits "are living in isolated rural areas where there's no public transport of any kind, and they end up at home looking at the four walls, night in and night out, because they don't want to take the risk of losing their licence."

Mr Healy-Rae continued, "I see the merit in having a stricter rule of law for when there's a massive volume of traffic and where there's busy roads with massive speed. But on the roads I'm talking about, you couldn't do any more than 20 or 30 miles per hour and it's not a big deal. I don't see any big issue with it."

The motion was passed earlier this week by five votes to three, although seven fellow councillors were absent from the meeting and a number of the councillors who approved the measure are reportedly themselves pub owners - but Mr Healy-Rae denied that this had influenced the vote.

Unsurprisingly, the move has been condemned by the mayor of Kerry, who told Irish broadcaster RTE: "It is incredibly dangerous. I don't know how anybody can be allowed to say: 'You've had two pints, so you're justified to drive'.

"I don't know what expertise one would have to look at someone in a bar to give them a permit to drive a car after any alcohol."

The council will now call on the justice department to implement the change.

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