Road Traffic Bill 2009: From the Seanad

The Dáil went into Committee to consider amendments from the Seanad.
Seanad amendment No. 1:
Section 3: In page 8, subsection (1), between lines 12 and 13, to insert the following:
""category", in relation to a vehicle referred to in the definition of "specified person", means a category of vehicle referred to in Regulation 6 of the Road Traffic (Licensing of Drivers) Regulations 2006 (S.I. No. 537 of 2006);".

Many of these amendments from the Seanad are small and technical adjustments to the Bill. As road traffic legislation attracts the most litigation, we want to make this Bill as watertight and as accurate as possible.

Seanad amendment No. 1 adds the definition of "category" to the list to provide clarity where the term is used in the definition of "specified persons".

Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 2:
Section 3: In page 8, subsection (1)(c), line 33, after “category” to insert “C, C1,”.

This amendment proposes to extend the categories of licence for the definitions of specified persons associated with an offence under sections 4 and 5. I want to add categories C and C1, drivers of rigid trucks, to the other categories defined as "specific persons", as they were excluded in an oversight.

Seanad amendment agreed to.

Amendments Nos. 3 to 5, inclusive, 7, 8, 10, 20 to 23, inclusive, 28 to 31, inclusive, 33, 36 to 38, inclusive, 42 to 44, inclusive, 48 to 51, inclusive, 53, 54, 56 to 63, inclusive, and 65 to 70, inclusive, are related and will be discussed together. That sounded like a bingo card.

They are not all related.

If Members wish, it is possible to desegregate them.

No, for time purposes we should take them together but not pretend they are all related.

We will deal with all these amendments in a collective way but it will not be possible to debate each amendment. However, I will give a little bit of flexibility if Members indicate to me on which amendment they would like to contribute.

Seanad amendment No. 3:

Section 3: In page 9, subsection (2), lines 9 and 10, to delete "hired or plied for hire, as the case may be" and substitute "used in the course of business".

This amendment provides more clarity and plain English to section 3(2).

This amendment proposes to change the racy language of "hired or plied for hire" with "used in the course of business". What if the vehicle is also used for personal use? An owner of a small public service vehicle will also use it as his or her personal transport vehicle.

This amendment provides more clarity. "Use in the course of business" is a more modern phrase.

Should the provisions of this section be confined to vehicles being used in the course of business? Surely a small public service vehicle is likely to be used on occasion as a family car. Many people may drive them for personal purposes as well as for work. Should that not be covered by the section?

It is. If I understand the Deputy correctly, he is saying that if a specified person is working, a different limit applies to him or her than if he or she was on holidays or otherwise not plying his or her trade. That is not what this is about; rather, it changes an old way of describing——

Does it cover personal use?

Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 4:
Section 7: In page 12, line 6, "force" deleted and "cause" substituted.
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 5:
Section 8: In page 12, subsection (3), line 32, after "or", "produces it but" inserted.
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 6:
Section 9: In page 13, subsection (1)(iii), line 43, "the member may then require the person" deleted.

I wish to comment on this amendment.

This is not part of the group of amendments that were to be discussed together.

Deputy Coveney, would you like to hear the Minister's comment first?

This section was the subject of much debate at various Stages in the Dáil and Seanad and a number of suggestions were made, which we have considered and which are reflected in the Bill. At all times we were conscious of the importance of taking legal advice on various aspects of the Bill; if I was not conscious of it before we started discussing the Bill, I certainly became so, because Acts such as these are the subject of the most legal action.

I am committed to the principle of mandatory testing. We tried during the earlier Stages in the Dáil and Seanad to find ways to provide for testing at collision sites where injury has been caused. We obtained advice from Office of the Attorney General at every stage of the Bill on ways to enhance the robustness of section 9. My advice is that simply by deleting the words "the member may then require the person", we can ensure that the mandatory element of section 9(1)(a)(i) and 9(1)(b) carries through to subparagraph (iii) and the discretionary element of section 9(1)(a)(ii) also carries through to subparagraph (iii).

I am happy with this amendment, which was introduced in the Seanad although the issue was raised in the House by Deputies Broughan and O'Dowd. After the passage of the Bill, when I met people from PARC, they felt we had provided what they had been seeking. As I said, we had a good debate on this during the earlier Stages in the Dáil.

This is the most substantial amendment from the Seanad. Although I am new to this legislation, that is my reading of it. I do not think we will see another amendment later that is more substantial. Essentially, this does away with the option for a garda who does not have a breathalyser when attending a collision of telling the person to go home. It requires the garda to obtain a breathalyser within an hour if possible.

Ironically, this happened to me one night when driving along the canal in Dublin. I was stopped by a garda at about 2.30 a.m. on my way home from a function and for some reason he was convinced I had drink taken, although I had not. He called for an apparatus and it took about 50 minutes to get one from some other part of Dublin. I do not know why I was nervous breathing into it when I had not been drinking, but I was.

I can understand the circumstances covered by this provision. If a garda stops a friend of his in some rural area and does not have a working apparatus in the car, there is a temptation, even if they go back to the Garda station, for the garda to let the driver go. The section provides for mandatory breath testing of a person in control of a car whether or not the garda has an apparatus available at the scene. This removes any ambiguity, which is a good thing.

My only concern is that I do not quite understand why the Minister has not tried to make the section a little clearer. The amendment could simply have deleted the word "may" and replaced it with "shall". The wording is not as clear when the phrase specified in the amendment is removed, and this may cause some confusion. I assume the Office of the Attorney General has approved the change, but to replace the word "may" with the word "shall" would make a very clear statement that the use of the breathalyser apparatus is not optional even if there is a delay between the arrival of the garda at the scene and the arrival of the apparatus. However, it is a good amendment. I can see why it has been introduced and I support it.

The amendment is fine in that respect, but my question is a different one. What is the meaning of the phrase "in the manner indicated by the member"? Has this been defined at any stage? Every garda will have a different instruction for blowing into the apparatus. Is there an agreed manner in which the apparatus should be used? The phrase is mentioned again and again in the Bill. Unless there is agreement on the manner in which the apparatus is to be used, each member of the Garda is likely to tell a driver something different.

I thank the Minister for deleting the phrase indicated in the amendment. We had lengthy discussions about it in the House during earlier Stages of the debate. The removal of the phrase strengthens the Bill and the application of the section, so that it comes as close as we can at this stage to mandatory testing, which I welcome.

Quite a few people in the House have had experience of giving breath samples to members of the Garda Síochána. At the start of the campaign of random checks, gardaí seemed to be requesting breath samples quite frequently, but some slippage has occurred over the last year and a half. The Minister is aware that at a meeting of the Joint Committee on Transport the Garda Commissioner told me that the number of random checks had declined from around 77,000 in 2008 to around 55,000 in 2009, and in 2010 the number has fallen again. There is a problem of enforcement that must be addressed. I thank the Minister for bringing forward this amendment in the Seanad and commend the committee members of the PARC organisation who fought such a tremendous campaign to bring mandatory testing to fruition in this Bill.

I thank the Deputies for their comments. I concur with Deputy Coveney with regard to the reason this was included as it was. I have mentioned that this is somewhat inelegant in the way it is drafted, but we tried to tidy it up to make it clear. I am told that from the legal perspective we should generally ensure "may" matches "may" and "shall" matches "shall" and so on and so forth. However, the provision meets the requirements of the Deputies and others with regard to mandatory testing. I acknowledge the work done by Deputies on all sides in this regard. We had a good debate on the issues. We made some amendments to the Bill in the Dáil and then took it to the Seanad where it was amended further. It has now returned to the Dáil so we can finish the job.

The Minister forgot to respond to my query about the manner indicated by the member of the Garda.

What that means is that the person must follow the instruction given by the garda on how to blow into the breathalyser. Due to the litigious nature of this legislation, gardaí are given training and instructions on how to instruct the person how to breathe into the breathalyser. Some Members have had the experience and know that the garda tells the person to breathe into the breathalyser for five seconds or whatever. The provision relates to whatever instructions the gardaí give. They are instructed to give the same instruction to all those being breathalysed. This is in order that people cannot claim they were not told how to do it. If they refused to do it or were obstructive, they could not claim they did not know what to do because the garda would not tell them. Anyone who has been in court and heard the way gardaí must give evidence in breathalyser cases, they will know the provision makes the process mechanical so that there can be no question raised about it. The gardaí have been trained in how to give their evidence because if they make even a slight slip, the lawyers are in like a shot to try and get people off.

Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 7:
Section 11: In page 15, subsection (2), lines 47 and 48, to delete "in the manner indicated by the other member".
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 8:
Section 12: In page 16, subsection (1), line 18, to delete "any or all" and substitute "either or both".
Seanad amendment agreed to.

Seanad amendments Nos. 9 and 11 are related and may be discussed together.

Seanad amendment No. 9:

Section 12: In page 16, subsection (1), to delete lines 24 to 46 and substitute the following:

"(b) require the person either—

(i) to permit a designated doctor or designated nurse to take from the person a specimen of his or her blood, or

(ii) at the option of the person, to provide for the designated doctor or designated nurse a specimen of his or her urine, and if the doctor or nurse states in writing—

(I) that he or she is unwilling, on medical grounds, to take from the person or be provided by him or her with the specimen to which the requirement in either of the foregoing subparagraphs related,

or

(II) that the person is unable or unlikely within the period of time referred to in section 4 or 5, as the case may be, to comply with the requirement,

the member may make a requirement of the person under this paragraph in relation to the specimen other than that to which the first requirement related.".

These amendments do not change in any significant way the provisions of the section involved, but I am advised by the Office of the Attorney General that it is better to remain consistent with wording that has been tried and tested over time. Accordingly, these amendments present in a clearer and unambiguous manner the objectives of the section, which is to provide for the option of supplying a urine sample instead of having a doctor or nurse take a blood specimen at a hospital. This amendment also removes the provision in these sections relating to the carrying out of medical examinations for the purposes of obtaining evidence. However, the medical examinations provision is being provided for more appropriately under section 24 of the Bill.

Can the Minister clarify the difference between the new and old wording? Does it concern the medical tests? I have read both wordings and have had to read them a second time to see a difference. I assume it was just a legalistic issue in terms of wording. Is there a substantive difference between the two wordings in the context of the responsibility of a doctor or nurse? Both wordings seem legitimate to me, but I presume there is a reason for the change.

On a similar point, the key point at the end of both amendments is that "the member may make a requirement of the person under the paragraph in relation to the specimen other than that to which the first requirement related". What are we going back to here if, in fact, the designated doctor and nurse in their opinion have not made provision or are unwilling on medical grounds to take the specimen from the person? Does this mean we must return to breath test evidence? What is the fundamental issue here?

On that same point, how can a designated doctor be unwilling on medical grounds to take a specimen? What medical grounds would cause a doctor to be unwilling to take the specimen? Perhaps the person might be unwilling to have the specimen taken, but why would a designated doctor be unwilling to take it?

On that last point, I do not know. A doctor might make a judgment that the person was not in a condition to give a sample. The default in all of this is the blood test, which is the primary test. However, the option is being left to return to other methods if, for some legitimate reason or other, it is not possible to do the blood test.

On the question raised by Deputy Coveney, he is correct that there is not a significant difference in the wording. However, somebody in the Office of the Attorney General felt that the current wording is clearer than the original wording and is better in order to make the provision as clear and unambiguous as possible. It does not change or alter in any way the intent of the original section of the Bill. It is purely a grammatical clean up of the Bill.

Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 10:
Section 14: In page 18, subsection (1), line 18, after "person" to insert "either".
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 11:
Section 14: In page 18, subsection (1), to delete lines 19 to 48 and substitute the following:
"(a) to permit a designated doctor or designated nurse to take from the person a specimen of his or her blood, or
(b) at the option of the person, to provide for the designated doctor or designated nurse a specimen of his or her urine, and if the doctor or nurse states in writing—
(i) that he or she is unwilling, on medical grounds, to take from the person or be provided by him or her with the specimen to which the requirement in either of the foregoing paragraphs related, or
(ii) that the person is unable or unlikely within the period of time referred to insection 4 or 5, as the case may be, to comply with the requirement,
the member may make a requirement of the person under this subsection in relation to the specimen other than that to which the first requirement related.".
Seanad amendment agreed to.

Seanad amendments Nos. 12, 13, 15, 17 to 19, inclusive, and 24 to 26, inclusive, are related and may be discussed together.

Seanad amendment No. 12:

Section 17: In page 21, subsection (4), line 21, to delete "section 4, 5 or 6” and substitute “section 4 or 5”.

Section 6 of the Bill provides that a person shall not drive or attempt to drive an animal drawn vehicle or a pedal cycle while under the influence of an intoxicant to such an extent as to be incapable of having proper control, and the penalties are stipulated for that offence. However, the requirement in legislation to undergo a breath test, other than a preliminary test at the roadside, or to provide a specimen of blood or urine, applies only to those found in charge of a mechanically propelled vehicle while under the influence of an intoxicant. The reference to section 6 with regard to the testing of specimens and evidential matters in sections 17, 18, 19, 20, 21 and 22 is, therefore, unnecessary. My amendments propose to delete that reference.

Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 13:
Section 18: In page 21, subsection (1), lines 25 and 26, to delete“section 4, 5 or 6” and substitute “section 4 or 5”.
Seanad amendment agreed to.

Seanad amendments Nos. 14, 16, 27, 45 to 47, inclusive, 52 and 55 are related and may be discussed together.

Seanad amendment No. 14:

Section 18: In page 21, subsection (1), line 29, to delete “subsection (1)(a) or (b) of section 12” and substitute “section 12 or 14”.

These are minor amendments that are being made to insert or correct the references in the relevant sections of the Bill. All of the amendments in the group are similar but necessary. In order to take into account the views of all stakeholders, this legislation continued to be amended quite late into the legislative process and throughout all Stages in both Dáil and Seanad. As legislation evolves and is shaped by the views of so many, we can expect to see the emergence of such drafting anomalies. These amendments are a reflection of that evolution and it is a credit to our ongoing examination of the Bill that we have captured them prior to enactment. I am grateful to Deputies and Senators for bringing some of them to our attention.

Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 15:
Section 18: In page 21, subsection (2), lines 30 and 31, to delete“section 4, 5 or 6” and substitute “section 4 or 5”.
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 16:
Section 18: In page 22, subsection (2)(c), lines 2 and 3, to delete “certificate under section 17” and substitute “statement under section 13”.
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 17:
Section 18: In page 22, subsection (3)(a), line 13, to delete “section 4, 5 or 6” and substitute “section 4 or 5”.
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 18:
Section 18: In page 22, subsection (4), lines 18 and 19, to delete“section 4, 5 or 6” and substitute “section 4 or 5”.
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 19:
Section 19: In page 22, subsection (1), line 27, to delete“section 4, 5 or 6” and substitute “section 4 or 5”.
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 20:
Section 19: In page 22, subsection (1), line 28, after "of" where it firstly occurs to insert "either".
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 21:
Section 19: In page 22, subsection (1), lines 28 and 29, to delete“section 12(1), 14(1)” and substitute “section 12(1) or 14(1)”.
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 22:
Section 19: In page 22, subsection (1), lines 29 and 30, to delete "or both" and substitute ", or both,".
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 23:
Section 19: In page 22, subsection (1), line 30, to delete“subsection (2)” and substitute “in subsection (2)”.
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 24:
Section 20: In page 23, subsection (4), line 27, to delete“6,”.
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 25:
Section 21: In page 24, subsection (1), line 2, to delete“6,”.
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 26:
Section 22: In page 24, subsection (3), line 31, to delete“section 4, 5 or 6” and substitute “section 4 or 5”.
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 27:
Section 22: In page 24, subsection (4), line 38, to delete“section 12(4)” and substitute “section 11(4)”.
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 28:
Section 24: In page 25, subsection (1), line 8, after "station" to insert "or the hospital, as the case may be,".
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 29:
Section 24: In page 25, subsection (1), line 9, to delete "of the person".
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 30:
Section 24: In page 25, subsection (1), line 11, to delete "was" and substitute "was,".
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 31:
Section 24: In page 25, subsection (1), line 12, to delete "he or she was".
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 32:
Section 24: In page 25, between lines 21 and 22, to insert the following subsection:
"(4) A requirement undersubsection (1) of a person admitted to hospital in the circumstances referred to in that subsection shall not be made unless a doctor treating the person has been consulted and it would not be prejudicial to the health of the person to make the requirement.”.

I am advised by the Attorney General's office that the insertion of this new subsection is necessary to clarify that a garda cannot request a medical examination to be carried out on a person admitted to hospital following a road collision unless the doctor treating the person is consulted and the examination would not be prejudicial to the health of that person. This wording is consistent with section 9(2).

I understand where the Minister is coming from in this amendment. We must legislate to require mandatory testing at the scene of an accident, because we owe it to the people who may have been injured in that accident and to the families concerned to ensure that in a subsequent legal case, autopsy or whatever, we are able to establish the facts. The key period following an accident is the hour or two immediately after it when people are in the midst of trauma, frightened and may be injured and in pain. It is a difficult time for a garda to have to insist on a test to establish whether a person has taken too much alcohol. However, we must balance that against the responsibility of the State to ensure we do everything to establish the facts so that as time passes the job of establishing what caused the accident and whether alcohol was involved can be answered with clarity and accuracy.

In that context, I understand the Minister's objective in this provision. Where a person is seriously injured and where a doctor tells the garda that he or she is trying to save that person's life and should not be distracted with a blood or breath test, the doctor's advice must take priority. Nevertheless, the garda must request the doctor or the team of doctors and nurses to facilitate the garda in doing his or her job. This is awkward stuff, as anybody who has been at the scene of an accident will know, but it is an important provision that tightens up the language in this area. It places the primary responsibility with the doctor, which is the correct legal position, but also reaffirms the role of the Garda. I support the amendment.

This subsection seems to answer the question I asked the Minister earlier in regard to amendment No. 11 about the circumstances in which a designated doctor would be unwilling on medical grounds to take a sample. Those medical grounds are spelled out here, but I wonder whether it should have been included in the earlier section. The provision indicates that the life of the person is predominant and that the doctor must be consulted to ensure that the taking of a blood sample would not be injurious to the health of the person. This is a reasonable amendment.

Like my colleagues, I have no difficulty with this sensible amendment. However, we must ensure that the culture is always that there will be mandatory testing of persons involved in road accidents. In other words, that will be the normal procedure to follow except in extenuating circumstances where the life of a person is at stake. I support the provision in the amendment that testing can only be done with the approval of a doctor. However, we must ensure there are no grey areas whereby cuteness might get a person out of these types of situations. For the sake of injured persons and families who have lost loved ones in a road accident, there must be no easy way out for drivers who have consumed alcohol.

In fairness to the Minister, his proposal seems to strike the right balance. Whether there will still be loopholes is difficult to say. The message must go out clearly that in the event of an accident there will be mandatory alcohol testing. That must be done except where there is a clear danger to the life of a person, as indicated by a doctor.

I thank the Deputies for supporting this amendment which is one of the core provisions in the Bill. A balance must be maintained, as Deputy Coveney said, and I am confident we have that balance right. In regard to the concerns expressed by Deputy Connaughton, if we discover that the balance is not right and that there are loopholes, we will try to plug them. However, this provision is based on the best advice available to us and the best balance we can currently get.

Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 33:
Section 27: In page 27, line 26, to delete "proceeding" and substitute "proceedings".
Seanad amendment agreed to.

Seanad amendments Nos. 34, 40 and 41 are related and may be discussed together. Seanad amendment No. 34:

Section 29: In page 28, subsection (3), lines 41 to 44 and in page 29, lines 1 to 14, to delete paragraphs (a) and (b) and substitute the following:

"(a) in the case of personal service, by—

(i) delivering it to the person, or

(ii) leaving it at the address—

(I) at which the person ordinarily resides,

(II) which, at the time of the alleged offence, the person gave to a member of the Garda Síochána, or

(III) at which the vehicle is registered, where the person is the registered owner of the vehicle at the time of the alleged offence,

or

(b) in the case of postal service, by posting it to the address—

(i) at which the person ordinarily resides,

(ii) which, at the time of the alleged offence, the person gave to a member of the Garda Síochána, or

(iii) at which the vehicle is registered, where the person is the registered owner of the vehicle at the time of the alleged offence.".

These provisions relate to fixed-charge notices and serving of those notices in respect of road traffic offences. Section 35 — subsection (3) in particular — provides for the manner in which a notice may be served. That procedure is also reflected in section 29 where a notice is served in respect of drink driving offences. These amendments do not alter the integrity of the relevant subsection as passed in the Dáil but simply adjust the layout of the wording to enhance the comprehensibility of the provisions as well as providing consistency in wording across all related sections.

Seanad amendment agreed to.

Seanad amendments Nos. 35 and 39 are related and may be taken together.

Seanad amendment No. 35:

Section 29: In page 29, subsection (6), lines 29 to 31, to delete all words from and including "and" in line 29 down to and including "date" in line 31.

Section 29 provides that where a person is alleged to have committed a drink driving offence but the concentration of alcohol levels are within certain limits, that person will be served with a fixed penalty notice. Persons are only eligible to be served with a fixed penalty notice once in a specified time period. On Report Stage in the Dáil Deputy Shane McEntee proposed that under section 29(5), the period of eligibility should be reduced from five to three years and I was satisfied to accept the proposal once the House agreed to the amendment. A subsequent examination of the Bill indicated two related amendments were required to be made under section 29(6) and section 32(1)(a)(3) to make them consistent with the Dáil amendment. These amendments were agreed subsequently by the Seanad.

Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 36:
Section 29: In page 30, subsection (8)(b), line 12, after “section,” to insert “he or she”.
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 37:
Section 29: In page 31, subsection (11)(e), lines 2 and 3, to delete “or referred to”.
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 38:
Section 31: In page 33, line 18, to delete "Act of 2006" and substitute "Road Traffic Act 2006".
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 39:
Section 32: In page 33, line 29, to delete "5 years" and substitute "3 years".

I wish to query the wording. The section refers to "a person not eligible to be served with a fixed penalty notice". I would have imagined a person would be not liable. I query the use of the word "eligible" or "liable". Which is it? I realise it is something of a dictionary query.

"Eligible" is the wording used consistently throughout the Road Traffic Acts. In layman's terms there does not appear to be a great difference between them but, apparently, in legal parlance this is the correct term.

Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 40:
Section 35: In page 36, subsection (3)(a)(i)(II), to delete lines 18 to 24 and substitute the following:
"(A) at which the person ordinarily resides,
(B) which, at the time of the alleged offence, the person gave to the member referred to insubsection (1), or
(C) at which the vehicle is registered, where the person is the registered owner of the vehicle at the time of the alleged offence,".
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 41:
Section 35: In page 36, subsection (3)(b), to delete lines 31 to 38 and substitute the following:
"(i) where the person is identified, by posting it to the address (inside or outside the State)—
(I) at which the person ordinarily resides,
(II) which, at the time of the alleged offence, the person gave to the member referred to insubsection (2), or
(III) at which the vehicle is registered, where the person is the registered owner of the vehicle at the time of the alleged offence,".
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 42:
Section 38: In page 41, subsection (3)(a), line 20, to delete “which is not a penalty point offence” and substitute “, which is not a penalty point offence,”.
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 43:
Section 38: In page 41, subsection (3)(b), line 26, to delete “which is a penalty point offence” and substitute “, which is a penalty point offence,”.
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 44:
Section 43: In page 43, subsection (2), line 44, after "paragraph (a)” to insert “of subsection (1)”.
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 45:
Section 50: In page 50, subsection (16), line 10, after "regulations" to insert "undersubsection (7)”.
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 46:
Section 50: In page 50, subsection (17), line 14, after "regulations" to insert "undersubsection (7)”.
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 47:
Section 50: In page 50, subsection (18), line 19, after "regulations" to insert "undersubsection (7)”.
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 48:
Section 59: In page 59, line 22, to delete "licence" and substitute "learner permit".
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 49:
Section 59: In page 59, line 50, to delete "the said".
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 50:
Section 60: In page 61, subsection (1), line 2, after "permit" to insert the following:
"or a document which purports to be a driving licence or learner permit".
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 51:
Section 60: In page 61, subsection (1), lines 3 and 4, to delete all words from and including "(inserted" in line 3 down to and including "2006)" in line 4.
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 52:
Section 60: In page 61, subsection (1), line 5, to delete "section 33 of the Act of 2004" and substitute "section 61 of this Act”.
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 53:
Section 60: In page 61, subsection (1)(b), line 10, after “be” to insert “, but is not,”.
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 54:
Section 62: In page 63, subsection (1), line 33, after "demand" to insert "or at the requirement".
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 55:
Section 62: In page 63, subsection (1), line 34, to delete "section 40(1) or (2)" and substitute "section 40".
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 56:
Section 62: In page 63, subsection (1), line 35, to delete "Act" and substitute "Act,".
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 57:
Section 62: In page 63, subsection (1), line 37, after "demand" to insert "or requirement".
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 58:
Section 62: In page 63, subsection (1), line 44, after "to" where it firstly occurs to insert "require the person to".
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 59:
Section 65: In page 68, line 53, to delete "section 56" and substitute "under section 56,".
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 60:
Section 65: In page 69, line 2, after "or" to insert "under".
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 61:
Section 65: In page 69, line 6, after "his" to insert "or her".
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 62:
Section 65: In page 71, line 45, to delete "person" and substitute "a person".
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 63:
Section 65: In page 72, line 4, to delete "person" and substitute "a person".
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 64:
Section 66: In page 72, before section 66, to insert the following new section:
66.—(1) Section 26 (inserted by section 26 of the Act of 1994) of the Principal Act is amended—
(a) in subsection (4)(a) (inserted by section 6 of the Act of 2006) by substituting for subparagraph (iii) the following:
"(iii) section 52 or 53, tried on indictment,",
and
(b) by substituting for subsection (5) the following:
"(5) (a) Subject to paragraph (b), the period of disqualification specified in a consequential disqualification order shall, where the person to whom the order relates is convicted of an offence under section 52 or 53 tried summarily or under section 56, be not less than 2 years in the case of a first offence under the section concerned and not less than 4 years in the case of a second or any subsequent offence under the same section committed within the period of 3 years from the date of the commission of the previous offence or, in the case of more than one such offence, the last such offence.
(b) Where a person is convicted of an offence under section 52 tried summarily or under section 56, the court may, in the case of a first offence under the section concerned, where it is satisfied that a special reason (which it shall specify when making its order) has been proved by the convicted person to exist in his or her particular case to justify such a course—
(i) decline to make a consequential disqualification order, or
(ii) specify a period of disqualification in the consequential disqualification order of less than 1 year.".
(2) This section stands repealed upon the commencement ofsection 65(1).”.

This amendment introduces a new section that would give effect to certain provisions in section 65 prior to its commencement. Section 65 repeals section 26 and section 49(1)(i) of the Act of 1994 and the Road Traffic Act 1995 and section 6 of the Act of 2006. It restates the provisions of section 26 related to consequential disqualification orders, to reflect the intoxicating driving provisions of this Bill and to provide for the range of penalties associated with reduced blood alcohol concentration levels and associated levels in breath and urine.

The section also provides for the substitution of the schedule of the Principle Act which sets out the offences under the Road Traffic Acts 1961 to 2009 involving consequential disqualification orders. However, section 65 cannot be commenced until the appropriate evidential breath test instruments are in place to allow for the implementation of the lower drink driving limits being introduced by this Bill. Accordingly, this new section is being introduced to allow for the commencement of provisions relating to consequential disqualification orders associated with careless and dangerous driving. It is vital that these disqualification orders can be applied with immediate effect upon the enactment of the Bill, given the nature of the offences involved.

The proposed section 66(2) will subsequently repeal section 66 on the commencement of section 65(1). There was much discussion in the Dáil regarding the early commencement of various sections of the Bill. Opposition Deputies urged me to proceed with commencement orders within the shortest possible timeframe. Deputy Broughan was especially strong in his views. This provision will assist me in this work by allowing the gradual commencement of certain elements rather than waiting until all aspects of section 65 are ready to be commenced.

I welcome the insertion of this provision by the Minister. The Minister referred to the 1994 Act. Does that incorporate the consequential disqualification sections of the 1961 Act? Does it supersede all the previous legislation? I welcome that it will be in place as soon as possible.

Since the Bill was passed in the Dáil previously, several critical media articles have appeared on the coming into force of the 0.05% blood alcohol limit. When does the Minister expect all the equipment to be in place and when will the provisions of this historic Bill, which we will pass finally tonight, be enforced on the roads of Ireland?

I refer to the first question raised by the Deputy. This includes the consequential disqualification provisions of all Road Traffic Acts from 1961 to 2009. All future Road Traffic Bills will include all the provisions relating to various aspects in one section and we will update all the sections accordingly. We are doing so in this case and matters related to driving under the influence of an intoxicant are all together in one provision. One feature of the next Bill will involve putting all penalty points offences in one area. To answer the Deputy's question, the Bill includes changes to the provisions of the Acts from 1961 to 2009.

The situation has not changed in respect of when I expect the provisions of the Bill to come into force. The timescale has not changed. The Medical Bureau of Road Safety is in the procurement process. It expects this will be completed and it will be in a position to test the EBT, evidential breath test, machines over the next six months. Once that testing is carried out the order will be placed. It will take a further period following purchase to test and ensure the machines are okay. This is likely to take six months. They will be rolled out to the Garda stations over the course of a three or four month period and I expect that by September of next year, once the Garda training and everything else is in place, the new sections with lower limits will come into play.

Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 65:
Section 68: In page 74, line 53, to delete "of it" and substitute "of it,".
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 66:
Section 69: In page 75, line 47, to delete "section" and substitute "sections".
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 67:
Section 78: In page 79, line 27, after "under" to insert "the Roads Act 1920,".
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 68:
Section 78: In page 79, line 28, to delete "1992," and substitute "1992".
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 69:
Section 79: In page 80, line 17, to delete "and date" and substitute "or date".
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 70:
Section 86: In page 85, subsection (1), to delete lines 24 and 25, and substitute the following:
"under sections 49, 50, 51A, 52 and 53 of the Principal Act, sections 12, 13 and 15 of the Act of 1994 andsections 4, 5, 12 and 14 of this Act, do not apply to—”.
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendments reported.

I thank the Leas-Cheann Comhairle and the staff of the House for their work and co-operation in getting the Bill through the Oireachtas. It was greatly appreciated. I acknowledge we put the Bills Office and other staff under pressure with this legislation. I would like, in particular, to thank the Opposition spokespersons, Deputies O'Dowd, Coveney and McEntee from Fine Gael, my old adversary, Deputy Broughan, who left at the tail end of the Bill's passage but I am glad to see him return, and Deputy Costello for their assistance. We teased out various elements of the legislation and good amendments were tabled. The Bill has been improved as a result of the debate. I also thank my officials and all the groups that briefed Members and made their views known. We might have not agreed with all of them at different times but it is important in a democracy that people should have their say and we, as legislators, should do what we think is best in the interests of the public. That was done in this case.

I am conscious that I have joined the debate towards the end of the passage of significant legislation. I thank my colleague, Deputy McEntee, who cannot be present. He has put a great deal of work into making a constructive contribution to the legislation. There was significant difficult internal debate in my party and in Fianna Fáil on this Bill and there was intense lobbying, particularly by rural publicans, who expressed concerns. However, the House has its priorities right on this issue because we prioritised safety over commerce in regard to road safety, particularly where issues such as the blood alcohol level are concerned. The Minister deserves recognition for his courage in reducing the level. It will not be implemented immediately but it will be implemented in time. That has not been an easy process.

It is sometimes ironic that Bills that generate controversy while they are debated are often passed quietly late at night in the House when people are not watching. However, this is important legislation, particularly for families whose lives have been turned upside down following road traffic accidents. I acknowledge those in the Visitors Gallery. This has been a good night's work and the legislation has highlighted the positive elements of the House with a constructive opposition and a Minister who has been willing to take on ideas in a sensible way. I thank the departmental officials whom I will hopefully get to know much better in the coming months. I also thank Deputy O'Dowd and, in particular, Deputy McEntee who has strongly held views on this issue. He won the argument in our political party and many of his amendments were accepted.

In my former life as a member of the Labour parliamentary party, I tabled a number of amendments, which the Minister graciously accepted and I thank him for that. I also thank the civil servants for their tremendous hard work. This is intricate legislation, given the challenges that have been mounted against road traffic law over the years. I am grateful to all those who made submissions to the Labour Party on the Bill and, in particular, to Susan Gray of the PARC road safety group, which played a heroic role in getting us to bring forward the legislation on an all-party basis. The group has done great work for our country. I thank the Minister.

I compliment the Minister on a good Bill, even though I have also joined the debate at the tail end. I also compliment my colleague, Deputy Broughan, for his Trojan work and the robust manner in which he raised issues in the Chamber, having carried out the lion's share of the work on behalf of the Labour Party. I look forward to working with the Minister in the months to come and with Deputy Coveney, who is also taking up this portfolio at the same time. I would like to compliment the staff on all the assistance given during the debate.

Agreement to Seanad amendments is hereby reported to the House. A message will be sent to Seanad Éireann acquainting it accordingly.