Irish council votes to relax drink-driving rules

Kerry County Council in Ireland voted to issue special permits for rural drivers, that would allow them to drink and drive. Credit: Press Association

A council in Ireland has been criticised for voting to allow people living in rural areas to legally drink and drive.

Road safety chiefs and alcohol charities attacked Kerry councillors' "unthinkable" backing for special permits to excuse rural dwellers from national drink-driving limits.

Kerry County Council passed a motion that would allow people living in the remote countryside to drive home from their nearest pub "after having two or three drinks on little-used roads, driving at very low speeds."

The council will now ask Irish Justice Minister Alan Shatter to issue special licenses.

Councillor Danny Healy-Rae, a publican who proposed the motion, claimed the move would "greatly benefit" and even prevent suicide and depression among those who were isolated because of current legislation.

The Irish Department of Transport signalled they would oppose the plans. A spokesman said:

"Rural areas are among the most dangerous roads in Ireland. [...] We need to be looking at how to make our roads safer, particularly in rural areas, instead of trying to reverse existing measures which are clearly working."