- REUTERS/Luke MacGregor
A county in Ireland is considering allowing intoxicated residents in rural areas to obtain special permits that would allow them to drive drunk.
Five members the Kerry County Council, which is located in the southwest of the country, voted in favor of allowing intoxicated drivers in sparsely populated areas to operate a motor vehicle, as reported by The Guardian.
Surprisingly, business owners and residents in the county were in favor of the new measures and said they would put community members at ease who are in fear of losing their license.
"A lot of these people are living in isolated rural areas where there's no public transport of any kind, and 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," Councilor Danny Healy-Rae, who owns a pub in Kerry County, told TheJournal.ie.
However, his motion was met with stiff criticism from other residents and those looking to prevent alcohol-related deaths in the country.
"We have made substantial progress in Ireland in reducing deaths and injuries on our roads, particularly in rural areas which are hardest hit by road fatalities and injuries." Noel Brett, chief executive of the Road Safety Authority in Ireland, told The Guardian.
Others reacted sharply to Healy-Rae's claim that residents, who would not be able to drive drunk, would suffer depression because they would be forced to stay in their homes, in isolation, in rural areas.
Sober driving advocates disputed Healy-Rae's claim that drunken driving laws are leading to the increased isolation and depression those living in sparsely populated areas.
"It should be noted that the link between alcohol use and suicide has been well established and alcohol will exacerbate, not alleviate any mental health difficulties that a person may be struggling with, such as depression or anxiety," Conor Cullen, Alcohol Action spokesman, told the BBC.