Ireland's Kerry County raises legal blood alcohol content

The decision was taken to help farmers who live in rural areas fight depression.

Ireland's Kerry County has passed a bill that increases the legal blood alcohol content (BAC) from 0.05 to 0.07 percent in certain rural areas.

The bill's backers explain that increasing the BAC tremendously helps rural farmers fight boredom and depression by allowing them to down up to three pints of beer at the pub and legally drive home.

"[Many farmers] live in isolated rural areas where there's no public transport of any kind. They end up at home looking at the four walls, night in and night out, because they don't want to take the risk of losing their license," said Danny Healy-Rae, a local politician who also owns a pub.

Critics immediately brought up the obvious danger associated with allowing farmers to drive tipsy or drunk on Ireland's narrow and windy roads, but Healey-Rae rebutted the comments by pointing out that many farmers drive tractors that move too slowly to pose a real threat to other motorists. He added that Kerry County is looking into enforcing a 30 mph speed limit for rural residents who have had a pint too many.

Five members of the Kerry County Council approved the bill last Monday. Three voted against it, seven did not vote and 12 did not show up to the session.

While Kerry County politicians and bar owners enthusiastically support the bill, the national government views the matter much differently.

"There is no question of this government, or indeed I don't believe any future government, facilitating individuals drinking in excess of the blood alcohol limits," affirmed Irish Justice Minister Alan Shatter. "It's grossly irresponsible."

Leo Varadkar, Ireland's Minister of Transportation, added that the decision conveys the world the wrong message about Ireland.

Photo by Ronan Glon.

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