Kerry County in southwest Ireland nearly passed a law that would have raised the number of alcoholic drinks residents could consume before driving.Proponents of the proposed law argued that it would alleviate depression by allowing more residents to socialize in pubs and then return home, according to ABC News.
Ireland is among the highest alcohol consuming countries in the European Union, according to the country’s Road Safety Authority.
In 2011, it lowered the legal limit for blood alcohol content from .08 to .05 — a lower limit than in the US and UK. This measure was widely credited with reducing drunk driving incidents; the number of road deaths has fallen by more than 50 per cent in the last five years, according to the Road Safety Authority.
This new proposed law would have allowed residents to consume “two or three drinks” and still drive.
Councilor Danny Healy-Rae, who also owns a pub, argued that the measure would not lead to more drunk driving deaths on rural roads. He also said that it could actually reduce the risk of suicide. He told TheJournal.ie:
A lot of these people 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…These characters are being isolated now at home, and a lot of them falling into depression.
The measure was passed by Kerry County’s Council, five votes to three, while many councillors were absent or abstained from voting, The Journal reported.
To go into effect, the measure needed the approval of the Department of Justice.
It was shot down by Justice Minister Alan Shatter, who called the idea “grossly irresponsible,” according to the AP (via Yahoo!).
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