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L-drivers face new questions in theory test

LEARNER drivers will have to cope with a new driver theory test from today -- with 1,500 possible questions in an updated database.

Drivers hoping to get their licences for cars, motorcycles, buses and trucks will have to sit the updated test after today.

Most of the questions have been updated, revised or replaced and the revisions include new questions and graphics.

Candidates will have to get 35 out of 40 of the multiple choice questions right to pass.

It also emerged today that motorists will face new lower drink drive limits from next Thursday night.

The new breath test limit of 50mg of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood -- down from the current 80mg -- is the equivalent of drinking less than one pint of beer. There will also be a limit of 20mg for learner and professional drivers.

Gardai are to mount hundreds of mandatory alcohol test (MAT) checkpoints nationwide over the October bank holiday weekend to enforce the new lower limits.



PENALTY

From midnight on Thursday, motorists caught just over the new drink-driving limit will be hit with penalty points and a €200 on-the-spot fine instead of losing their licence.

The new three-tier drink driving regime involves a controversial 'second chance' for those who are just over the limit. The reduced punishment regime is designed to avoid an outcry should thousands of drivers get caught under the lower limit.

Under the current system, all drink drivers are prosecuted in court and banned for 12 months if convicted.

Gardai now have powers allowing them to impose three penalty points and the fine for motorists caught slightly above the new legal limit of 50mg.

This will replace the current automatic court appearance and disqualification for one year and these drivers will also escape a drink-driving conviction. However, drivers will be legally obliged to notify their insurance companies when renewing their premiums.

In preparation for the new theory test, a fifth edition of the Official Driver Theory Test has been released. And regardless of how well learner drivers do, at the end of the test they will get a list of categories recommended for further study.

hnews@herald.ie