So St. Patricks day was this weekend, and like most of the country I went out on Friday night to celebrate. I did the responsible thing, drove to town, had my few pints (literally a few, just one of those nights where I couldn't be bothered drinking much) and got a taxi the half mile out of town to my house. It was roughly 2.30/3.00 when I got in and I'd set my alarm for 10.30. Best of both worlds, got to go out with my friends and still get plenty sleep before facing the next day.
On Saturday I had to be in Tralee by midday. Given that there's little-to-no reliable public transport from Killorglin to Tralee (there is a bus service, but trust me it's far from reliable and I'd have to walk another mile in Tralee to get where I needed to go), the only option I had was to walk into town, collect my car and drive. It had been roughly 10 hours since my last drink. I'd had that little that I hadn't even a hint of a hangover. But, under Minister Ross' proposed legislation changes, I'd be considered a criminal.
Not only would I be a criminal, I could potentially have my car taken from me. Given the aforementioned absence of reliable public transport, I'd also lose my job as there's no way I'd make it to my shift on time every day and arranging a lift just isn't an option.
This is why people in rural areas have a problem with this proposed changes in the law. It's not that we condone drink-driving, it's not that we want special permits permitting us to do so. It's down to the fact that, if you want to have any sort of a life in rural Ireland, joining your friends for a drink is unavoidable. We have no alternative in terms of socialising, the pub is all we have. We have no alternative in terms of transport, the car is king. You can be as responsible as you like (I think I was very much so on Paddy's day?) but zero tolerance will kill rural Ireland if proper transport links aren't first put in place.
Consider the consequences of poorly researched legislation Minister. Give us an alternative to using our cars and then, one hundred percent, a zero tolerance policy is the correct thing.