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" . . . voted to let rural residents drive a bit drunker"
February 1, 2013 5:35 PM   Subscribe

In rural Ireland, pub business is down due to stricter drunk driving laws. In order to increase business, some counties are considering loosening the laws - in one county, "councilors voted to let rural residents drive a bit drunker."
posted by insectosaurus (35 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
Note that there is both a written story and a four minute radio segment.
posted by insectosaurus at 5:35 PM on February 1, 2013


Councillors have no law-making powers in Ireland. The person who does have that power, Justice Minister Alan Shatter, had this to say:

“There’s no question, of this government, or indeed, any future government, facilitating individuals drinking in excess of the blood alcohol limits,” Shatter says. “Reducing fatalities on our roads must always take precedence over promoting the social consumption of alcohol.”
posted by minifigs at 5:39 PM on February 1, 2013 [7 favorites]


Getting rental car insurance in Ireland was hard and super expensive because of the high accident rate. I was told it was cause visitors aren't used to the really narrow roads*and one way systems and get into accidents a lot so most insurance companies won't touch Irish car rentals.


This is not going to help


* I thought they were kidding cause, hey I've been to Italy. NOPE, what looked like huge boulevards on maps where in fact, tiny cow paths fit for only the smallest and most nimble scooters, let alone a rental car.
posted by The Whelk at 5:43 PM on February 1, 2013


Yep. Voted to let them drive a bit drunker. From 0.05% to 0.07%.

Something about glass houses and throwing stones. Because 0.08% BAC limit in most US states is pretty much a license to drive impaired.
posted by Talez at 5:56 PM on February 1, 2013 [5 favorites]


Good on Kerry County for subverting ethnic stereotypes like that.
posted by dersins at 5:57 PM on February 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


Given how twisty most of the roads are, being a little more drunk would probably help the driving. (I'm still not sure how we didn't plunge to our deaths on the Slea Head Road in Dingle)
posted by briank at 6:11 PM on February 1, 2013


I will say that the biggest culture shock I got in the Midwest was the amazingly nonchalant attitude toward drunk driving. It was just what you did cause otherwise how would you get around?
posted by The Whelk at 6:21 PM on February 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


Counties do not operate like USstates and this is going nowhere: in the Irish press it's mainly been reported as Healy-Rae's push alone (rather than him leading anything), so it's basically one councillor in a country with many of them.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 6:22 PM on February 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


An Irish aunt told me recently that the stricter enforcement of drink driving laws was driving many older Irish men to suicide from social isolation
posted by moorooka at 6:56 PM on February 1, 2013


Or they could just do what they did in the 19th century and have enough pubs that even rural people could walk to them.

Or if it's still too far, that's what the village taxi is for.
posted by jb at 7:04 PM on February 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


The legal limit is 0.05%?

I don't know that I'd personally even feel buzzed at 0.05.

(Which may be the point, I'll admit--the implication being don't drive having drunk any alcohol.)

I don't know if I adhere to this "nonchalant attitude toward drunk-driving," because, obviously, my attitude seems normative. But if I have two pints with dinner and then a coffee with dessert, I drive home. I don't drive impaired, my BAC is certainly under 0.08, and it's silly to say that no amount of impairment at all is acceptable from alcohol when people can, do, and sanction driving under all sorts of other impairments on a daily basis.
posted by adoarns at 7:15 PM on February 1, 2013 [5 favorites]


It's my understanding that pubs, as public houses, are more than just bars and that they are often offer food, entertainment, and a relaxing atmosphere to meet and spend time with friends and neighbors. If people are foregoing this activity simply because they can't get as drunk as they'd like to get, then I think there are bigger societal problems at play here.

But then again, I'm not a drinker, so maybe there's something I'm missing.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 7:22 PM on February 1, 2013


If people are foregoing this activity simply because they can't get as drunk as they'd like to get, then I think there are bigger societal problems at play here.
You can get nearly twice that drunk here in the US and drive legally. In this case a single beer could easily put you over the limit, depending on your weight.

There's nothing wrong with trying to decide what the "correct" cutoff should be, some countries have tried setting extremely low BAC levels and there was no resulting reduction in accidents, IIRC.
posted by delmoi at 7:32 PM on February 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, walkable pubs or public transport is a much better solution. I have no idea how it is in Ireland, but here in suburban US walkable pubs are just not there and the zoning/neighbors would never allow it. Taxi services always end up in some weird legal limbo too. Completely ridiculous. We react to this problem with harsh laws without the just as necessary step of redesigning our communities to conform around the social drinking culture.

There is no excuse for DUI though. It's not that hard to crash on a couch or not drink or stay home or designate a driver. Old Irish guys, consider working out a DD rotation before suicide.
posted by Drinky Die at 7:37 PM on February 1, 2013 [5 favorites]


Justice Minister Alan Shatter, had this to say...

Thank fucking god someone has some sense.

An Irish aunt told me recently that the stricter enforcement of drink driving laws was driving many older Irish men to suicide from social isolation

There's always somebody committing suicide isn't there? I must confess to an unhealthy speculation as to how people are so confident about the cause when these figures get thrown around with regard to old people, farmers, teens, you name it. Do they all leave it in the note? Is it possible a culture that lionises drinking and marries it to social interaction might bear some blame, rather than drinking? How much blame? How many people are killed on the roads because of pissed old men? So many questions lurking underneath the anecdotes.

More broadly, adoarns, I would say in response to your argument that:
a) one type of impairment is not necessarily like another
b) Efforts to reduce any empairment are laudable, I would think
c) and most importantly; a huge issue with limits is that - much like speed limits - they do not usually function as a hard stop and in fact many use them as a guide from which to go a little or more over.

Make no mistake, if the average person has two pints with dinner and is driving within two hours later, they are impaired, and there's a strong likelihood they will be over 0.08%. If you don't believe me check for yourself (remember a pint is actually 2.5 standard drinks).

On preview: Delmoi I'd be very interested to see some examples, if you R'd correctly.
posted by smoke at 7:40 PM on February 1, 2013


An Irish aunt told me recently that the stricter enforcement of drink driving laws was driving many older Irish men to suicide from social isolation

Social isolation of the elderly (both male and female) is a real problem in rural Ireland, but it's due to more reasons than the fact that elderly Irishmen can't knock back an extra pint: the gutting of social services; the fact that the rural bus service is a total joke; lack of mental health care services, and so forth are all far more important. None of this is going to be fixed by allowing people in countryside to drink more even if that were a thing that were possible.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 7:50 PM on February 1, 2013 [11 favorites]


I cannot fucking wait until self-driving cars get here.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:57 PM on February 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


The obvious and traditional solution is to ride horses into town. The horses don't drink liquor and get impaired, and despite their inebriated rider they are generally able to make their own way home. Hell, if the guy was drunk to unconsciousness, just lash him over the horse, and give it a slap to send them on their way home.

There are old legends about my town when it was just a rural outpost. There were plenty of saloons, so farmers would drive their horse-drawn wagons into town to buy supplies, then get drunk at a saloon, and ride the wagon back home at night. They made the trip so many times, the horse knew how to get home all by itself.

So sometime like the 1870s, a guy was riding home drunk with his supplies wagon, he fell asleep at the reins. But his horse took a wrong turn and went over a dangerous railroad trestle, over the river. People were watching in horror as the guy's wagon hit a bump, he woke up in a half stupor, and pulled on the reins, startling the horse. Its hoof slipped between the railroad ties, it lost its footing, and fell over the tracks, dragging the wagon and the driver into the water. The horse and rider were killed instantly, making this the first drunk driving fatality the county history.
posted by charlie don't surf at 8:00 PM on February 1, 2013 [5 favorites]


In this case a single beer could easily put you over the limit, depending on your weight.

0.05% is approximately 2 standard drinks in the first hour and a standard drink every hour after that for a male and one standard drink in the first hour and a standard drink every hour after that for a female.

If you want to get intoxicated catch a fucking taxi or rotate a designated driver.
posted by Talez at 8:39 PM on February 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


The obvious and traditional solution is to ride horses into town.
I read about a guy who got arrested for DUI while riding a horseback.
Like what, the horse is going head on into a tree?

I cannot fucking wait until self-driving cars get here.
Man, that'll be great. It'll bring back the drunk. We don't even have Barney from the Simpsons anymore thowing up cartoon vomit.
We'll be able to fall out of the goddamned car giggling like Dudley Moore eating Malt o Meal like Crazy Googinheim, it will be a Fallstafian revolution in our self-driving motor carriages.
I look forward to reading and naps.
posted by Smedleyman at 8:56 PM on February 1, 2013


It's all a cover.
There's Grabbers on the loose.
posted by Mezentian at 10:04 PM on February 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Make no mistake, if the average person has two pints with dinner and is driving within two hours later, they are impaired, and there's a strong likelihood they will be over 0.08%. If you don't believe me check for yourself (remember a pint is actually 2.5 standard drinks).
The law here is 0.05, not 0.08. RTFA, TIA.
The obvious and traditional solution is to ride horses into town. The horses don't drink liquor and get impaired, and despite their inebriated rider they are generally able to make their own way home. Hell, if the guy was drunk to unconsciousness, just lash him over the horse, and give it a slap to send them on their way home.
these days people are getting convicted for horse drawn carriages while drunk. It's ridiculous.
posted by delmoi at 10:07 PM on February 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Delmoi, in your haste to score a point, you failed to see that I was responding to someone else's comment. Thanks for the condescension, though.
posted by smoke at 10:17 PM on February 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


0.05% is approximately 2 standard drinks in the first hour and a standard drink every hour after that for a male and one standard drink in the first hour and a standard drink every hour after that for a female.
Which means if you drink that much, there's a 50/50 chance you'll be over the limit, which basically means if you want to be certain you wont get a DUI you have to be certain you're under the limit. I mean one drink for a "female" would mean that a 140 pound might would be under the limit with one drink while a 100 pound woman would be illegal after just one drink, all dependent on exactly how long they weighted to drive.

The point here is just that it's much more restrictive then in the US, so unless you think the US should move to 0.05 then it doesn't seem reasonable to criticize them for wanting to go from .05 to .07.

Hopefully self-driving cars will solve all our problems.
posted by delmoi at 10:19 PM on February 1, 2013


Damn straight I want the US to go to .05. As soon as you break past .06 you start to lose your depth perception, peripheral vision and some decision making skills.
posted by Talez at 10:37 PM on February 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


these days people are getting convicted for horse drawn carriages while drunk. It's ridiculous.

Amish buggies share the road with cars and can cause accidents. It's not all that ridiculous.

I draw the line at public drunkenness arrests for folks walking home but not causing disturbance. All it does is create a perverse incentive to drive instead which puts us all in more danger from the drunks. I see these type of arrests every week in the paper here in suburbia.
posted by Drinky Die at 12:40 AM on February 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


A lot of nonsense being written in this thread. Read this to see how 99.9% of the Irish population immediately saw these proposals for the embarrassing bollocks they are.

Dear World: Dont believe Irish Stereotypes.
posted by kev23f at 2:41 AM on February 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


You can get nearly twice that drunk here in the US and drive legally. In this case a single beer could easily put you over the limit, depending on your weight.

Delmoi, 0.05 is the limit in most of Europe and even internationally.
In Ireland, it was introduced in 1994. The year before, there were some 431 deadly road accidents. Last year? 186.
Such drops are pretty consistent across all countries which have introduced 0.05 mg BAC or lower limits.
Quite honestly, in its irrationality, the US' attitude to alcohol only comes second to its attitude towards guns: on one hand you have "dry" counties and absurd restrictions on the public consumption of alcohol, and on the other hand you cling to completely outdated measures against drink driving.
posted by Skeptic at 2:56 AM on February 2, 2013 [6 favorites]


The obvious and traditional solution is to ride horses into town. The horses don't drink liquor and get impaired, and despite their inebriated rider they are generally able to make their own way home. Hell, if the guy was drunk to unconsciousness, just lash him over the horse, and give it a slap to send them on their way home.

Like this...
posted by atrazine at 4:00 AM on February 2, 2013


I'll 'fess up to it: I got a DUI when I was 23. It was nearly a year after I had moved to Atlanta and I was using booze as a way to relax and make friends because I was all alone in a strange new city.

Only...I was still zooming around intoxicated where I was living previously. Almost everyone I knew was as well.

And as much I hated having that black mark on my record for YEARS (especially when it came time to emigrate to another country who took drink-driving very very seriously when considering a person for PR status), I am glad I got busted. Because I don't know what would have happened if a cop hadn't busted me outside The Earl on Labor Day weekend. I would have continued drinking and driving until I hurt myself and/or someone else most likely.

I get that some elderly Irish people are living in isolation and going to the pub is a way to stave off loneliness and have a few convivial pints with friends. I get that the narrow roads may not be as dangerous as, say, a busy thoroughfare with heavy traffic. But you know what?

All it takes is one horrible accident. Just one.
posted by Kitteh at 5:35 AM on February 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


I've been driving in rural Ireland with a helpful GPS that was more than happy to inform me I was on Unnamed Road at the intersection of Unnamed Road. A drink couldn't have made things worse.
posted by tommasz at 6:49 AM on February 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


I have driven drunk once or twice.
I would have no idea what my blood level was, but dear god almighty, that first time, I thought I was okay until the road turned and my god did I not have the capacity to control a motorcar all of a sudden.

The other two times I was potentially over the limit, or on the limit, but they were emergencies and I felt okay, and drove okay. I'm not sure how arbitrary the limit is, but these days I stick to a strict rule of no more than two drinks/two pints, with appropriate food and with time. It ain't worth the risk.

(I think the killer moment was when I had to physically drag a workmate from her fuck-off-sized ute/pick-up, when they could barely walk much less drive, and I realised just how useless the brain is on the turps at assessing one's abilities.)
posted by Mezentian at 7:28 AM on February 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Skeptic writes "In Ireland, it was introduced in 1994. The year before, there were some 431 deadly road accidents. Last year? 186.
Such drops are pretty consistent across all countries which have introduced 0.05 mg BAC or lower limits.
"

You can't get meaningful correlation from auto deaths like that because cars and road infrastructure have been getting safer for decades. There were 40,716 automobile deaths in the US in 1994 and only 32,367 in 2011. And the fatalities per 100,000 population dropped almost 30% (15.6403 to 10.3876). Yet the more generous rate of .08 remains the rule for most of the US.

Also see that huge drop at 08/09? That's the effect of less miles travelled due to unemployment.
posted by Mitheral at 8:33 AM on February 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Dear World. Don't believe Irish stereotypes. Nice column in the Irish Times on this topic here.
posted by Sk4n at 10:28 AM on February 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Hilariously (or not so) in my slow quest to rewatch the 80s Twilight Zone, last night I saw "The Little People of Killany Woods"

If there is 10 minutes on TV packed tighter with Irish stereotypes (potato jokes were missing however) I'd be surprised. Showing that in Ireland is probably a hate crime.
posted by Mezentian at 5:30 PM on February 2, 2013


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