MATTIE PUTS THE BOOT IN AS DEMPSEY CONFIRMS BREATH SAMPLES HITCH
South Tipperary TD, Deputy Mattie McGrath has come out strongly against Transport Minister Noel Dempsey on foot of the news that Ireland may now have to wait until late 2011 before the new drink/driving limits can be implemented, as the equipment used to test breath samples from drivers must be replaced. The outspoken TD who, along with 20 other Dail deputies, is opposing the government’s published new drink/driving limits and is shocked at the latest developments.
“The Minister should be ashamed of himself if he didn’t know about the machines before he published his bill. As for the cost of the new machines, money means nothing to Minister Dempsey and his department. This is just another example of unnecessary waste by the government,” Deputy McGrath told The Avondhu.
It has been reported that the breath-testing (EBT) machines used in Garda stations to measure the alcohol in a driver’s breath cannot be recalibrated to the 20mg limit proposed for inexperienced and professional drivers in the Road Traffic Bill 2009, published recently.
The Medical Bureau of Road Safety (MBRS), which has responsibility for providing and monitoring this equipment, have decided to replace all of the 64 EBT machines with systems that can test for both the proposed general new limit of 50mg and 20mg.
Officials at the MBRS estimate it will be the middle of 2011 at the earliest before the new machines can be purchased, tested and installed in Garda stations, even though the Minister intends for the Bill to be passed by the middle of next year.
Gardai have also requested an increase in the number of machines from 64 to 86. The handheld breathalyzers uses by An Garda Siochana can be recalibrated to the new proposed drink/driving levels and will not need to be replaced.
Officials at the Department of Transport have been advised of the need for the new machines and it is reported that the cost of the of €800,000 has been allocated by the department.
It has also been revealed that the new equipment will require a minimum of six months’ testing to ensure it meets legal, constitutional, forensic and scientific requirements. Taking all this into account, if Minister Dempsey’s bill passes into law it will be late 2011 before it can be enforced. A spokesperson for the Minister was unavailable for comment when contacted by The Avondhu.
Thursday 12th November 6:36pm