While states across America tighten laws on drunk driving, a county in southwest Ireland has RELAXED its drinking and driving laws to allow rural residents to drive home from the local pub after a few pints.
Kerry County Council passed a controversial motion on Monday, with a vote of five to three, to support the creation of a special permit that will allow rural drinkers to drive after having "two or three drinks," the Guardian.co.uk reports.
The law was heralded by independent councillor Danny Healy-Rae, who claims it will help prevent depression and suicide in isolated country areas. He argued that rural residents are driving on roads with very little traffic and claims they "have never killed anyone," while fighting to bring back a social outlet for lonely people that had been lost thanks to ever stricter drink-drive laws.
Coincidentally, Healy-Rae is also a pub owner in Kilgarvan, County Kerry, and argued that his customers are "traveling in very minor roads, often on tractors, with very little traffic and it's not right they're being treated the same as the rest of the traveling public.
"The only outlet they have then is to take home a bottle of whiskey and they're falling into depression, and suicide for some of them is the sad way out," he said.
Not surprisingly, the legal landmark has been criticized by Ireland's Road Safety Authority, whose spokesman Noel Brett confirmed that the greatest toll in deaths and injuries from road accidents has actually occurred in rural locations.
"Depression causes suicide. It's not caused by not being able to go to the pub. There's more things to do in Kilgarvan than go into your pub," Irish Labour councillor Gillian Wharton-Slattery pointed out bluntly.