(Cavan): When I reported progress, I stated that I proposed to conclude my remarks on this amendment by referring again to the Commission on Driving While Under the influence of Drink or a Drug. Deputy Booth stated that the members of this Commission did not have any practical experience of the difficulties involved in the offence with which we are dealing under this section —the offence of driving a mechanically propelled vehicle while impaired. I want to put it on record that this Commission was composed of a number of very eminent and responsible people—the President of the High Court, the State Pathologist, the President of the Safety First Association, a number of medical practitioners, a superintendent of the Garda Síochána, district justices and civil servants.
This Commission studied the whole problem very carefully from the date on which it was set up, 14th September, 1961, until the date on which it submitted its report, 15th May, 1963. During that period study groups from the Commission visited a number of continental countries where they contacted members of the police forces, members of the judiciary, chemists and others involved in this problem in those countries. In addition, a study group visited London and attended the Third International Conference on Alcohol and Road Traffic. Having done that, they came back and submitted a report to the Minister's predecessor which recommends the amendment which I put down to this section, and which opposes the section which is being insisted upon by the Minister. Therefore, I say it is very difficult to understand the Minister's attitude in refusing point blank to accept the the recommendations of this Commission.
I began my argument in favour of my amendment by referring to this Report and I wish to conclude by again putting on record that the Report to which I refer supports my argument and does not support the Minister's proposal as contained in the section. That, coupled with the discussion we have had over several hours on this amendment, should, I think, convince the Minister that, even at this stage, or certainly between now and the Report Stage of this Bill, he should reconsider the matter. I think I am not unfair when I say it appears to me that I am not alone in being uncomfortable about the section as drafted. I think there are Members on all sides of the House who believe that the section goes too far, is unnecessary and that as drafted, it will create serious difficulties for law-abiding, unimpaired motorists.
I wonder what would be the position if on an amendment such as this the Minister were to have a free vote of the House. Practically all that can be said has been said on this amendment. The strongest argument in its favour is the Report of the Commission. It cannot be said that the members of the Commission had anything in mind other than a genuine and sincere effort to rid the roads of the motorists whose judgment is impaired due to the consumption of alcohol while at the same time preserving the rights and liberties of the individual and preserving the code of criminal law as it has been operated since the foundation of the State.