Ministers consider cut to NI drink-drive limit

Solicitors in Northern Ireland could see fewer people claiming compensation for alcohol-related road traffic accidents, after the government revealed that it was considering cutting drink-driving limits in the province.

Currently the level of alcohol permitted in the bloodstream for drivers in Northern Ireland to be allowed behind the wheel is 80mg per 100ml of blood.

Those who drink-drive in Northern Ireland face a minimum one year driving ban as standard, Drink-drivers can also be fined up to £5,000 and be jailed for a maximum of six months.

But environment minister, Arlene Foster, told Stormont that she is looking to lower the legally permitted amount of alcohol that can be consumed by motorists to bring it closer to European levels.

Ms Foster said: "I am personally in favour of lowering the limit and it is something that we are actively looking at in the Department."

Brigitte Chaudhry from the RoadPeace campaign group commented in the Belfast Telegraph: "It seems that more people, even amongst the young, do not feel so strongly that drinking and driving is unacceptable.

"There needs to be a zero-tolerance approach and there should be more police officers on the roads to enforce the laws."

Some 1,423 motorists were caught driving under the influence in the province in 2006 and 970 have been caught driving over the limit so far this year.

Should the legislation be passed, Northern Ireland solicitors could see a drop in the number of victims of road traffic accidents caused by those over the limit, particularly if punishments were made tougher.

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