It is an offence to drive or attempt to drive a mechanically propelled vehicle in a public place while under the influence of intoxicant to such an extent as to be incapable of having proper control of the vehicle. An intoxicant includes alcohol or drugs or any combination.
It is a separate offence to drive or attempt to drive an mechanically propelled vehicle in a public place while having in one’s body quantity of alcohol within three hours after so driving or attempting to drive exceeding 50 mg per 100 ml of blood (80 mg pre2010 Act) . There are separate offence where the concentration exceeds 67 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of urine (107 mg pre-2010 Act). It is a separate offence concentration in breath exceeds 22 micogrammes of alcohol per 100 ml of breath (22 pre-2010 Act).
The offence is to drive within three hours having the following quantum of alcohol in his or her body
- 50 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood or 20 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood in the case of a specified person (learner or novice driver);There is a higher level offence amount
- 67 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of urine or in the case of a specified driver 27 mg of alcohol per hundred milligrams of urine.
- 22 µg of alcohol per 100 ml of breath or in the case of a specified person 9 µg of alcohol per 100 ml of breath.
A person shall not have in his body a quantity of drug specified in his body within three hours above the quantity specified. A person who has a medical exemption certificate is exempt. Obtaining such a certificate with false information is an offence.
The legislation has been broadly similar for the last 50 years although it has been re-enacted a number of times. On each occasion it has been sought to make the procedure less vulnerable to challenge. There has been significant amount of cases on interpretation of every aspect of the legislation. The stakes are often high because of the risk of loss of driving licence.
A person is subject on summary conviction to a fine of €5000 or six months imprisonment. The Probation of Offenders Act possibilities does not apply.
There is a mandatory consequential disqualification determined by whether or not it is a first or second offence and the level of intoxicant
Where a person is convicted of the principal offences the court shall unless satisfied there is a substantial and special reason for not so doing, order the person to pay a contribution towards the costs incurred by the Bureau.
A person’ is subject on conviction up to 6 months disqualification on a first offence and one year on a second and subsequent offences where the quantities are less than
- 107 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of urine .
- 80 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood
- 35 µg of alcohol per 100 ml of breath
A person is subject on conviction to 1 years disqualification on a first offence and 2 years on the second and subsequent offences where the quantities are.
- 107-135 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of urine .
- 80 -100 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood
- 35 µg -44g of alcohol per 100 ml of breath
A person is subject on conviction to 2 years disqualification on a first offence and 4 years on the second and subsequent offences where the quantities are.
- 135- 200 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of urine .
- 100-150 of alcohol per 100 ml of blood
- 44µg – 6g of alcohol per 100 ml of breath
A person is subject on conviction to 3 years disqualification on a first offence and 6 years on the second and subsequent offences where the quantities exceed
- 200 mg of alcohol per 135 ml of urine .
- 150 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood
- 66 µg -44g of alcohol per 100 ml of breath
A person may be found guilty of the below mentioned offences of refusing co-operation in the alternative
Being in Charge / Attempting
It is equally an offence carrying the same penalties to attempt to drive or to be in charge of a vehicle under each or any of the above circumstances. In charge means having possession and control of a vehicle without necessarily driving it.
Where a person is sitting in a vehicle and is about to drive he may be in charge. He may also be in charge if he approaches a vehicle in circumstances which show an intention to take control of it.
Therefore the Gardai Siochana need not prove the person was driving. The person need not have commenced driving. The same provisions apply to the offences. The fines are the same. The Probation Act does not apply. A Garda may arrest the person concerned without a warrant.
It is an offence albeit with lesser consequences to drive or attempt to drive or be in charge of an animal drawn vehicle, to driver or attempt to drive a pedal cycle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or drug to such extent as to be incapable of having proper control of the vehicle or cycle.
A person shall drive or attempt to drive in a or cycle in a public place in an animal drawn vehicle or a pedal cycle or use the same under the influence of intoxicants such as to be incapable of having proper control of the vehicle or bicycle. This is subject on summary conviction to a fine up to €2,000 or one month’s imprisonment or both for a first offence and up to €5000 and up to 3 months imprisonment or both for a second offence. In the case of the pedal cycle the person subject on summary conviction to a fine up to €2,000.
It is an offence for a person to be in a public place under the influence of liquor or a drug such as to be a source of danger to traffic. A member of an Garda Siochana may arrest the person without warrant. Persons so arrested may also be charged with various offences under public order offences or certain aspects of licensing law.
Penalties & Disqualification
The penalties for the above offences are as follows:
- Automatic disqualification;
- Fine or imprisonment and costs.
The period of disqualification depends on whether it is a first or later offence and the blood alcohol concentration. In the first category three month disqualification is provided for a first offence and six months for a second offence. In the second category the respective periods are one year and two years. In the higher highest category the period are two years and four years.
The person may also be imprisoned and may be required to play contribution to the cost of the Medical Bureau unless there are good reasons for doing otherwise.
When a person is convicted of the above and/or certain other offences the court shall unless there are special and substantial reasons for not doing so, order the person to pay a contribution towards the costs and expenses incurred by the Medical Bureau in the performance of its functions. There is prescribed amount of €250 for alcohol and €350 for drugs.
Appeal & Lifting Disqualification
As with all other criminal offences if an appeal is entered the disqualification is suspended pending the appeal. However there is a risk of a harsher sentence later.
There is a procedure for applying to Court in respect of disqualification to reduce it to up to half the time imposed by the Court. Good and substantial reason must be shown. The provision does not apply to the shorter three month disqualification.
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