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New Campaign Highlights Impact of a Driving Disqualification on those Planning a J1 Visa Programme next summer

Anti-drug driving 29.09.2022
  • RSA, USIT Travel and AGS target new and returning college students with drink and drug driving campaign
  • Video campaign ramps up the FOMO factor

The Road Safety Authority (RSA) in partnership with USIT Travel, Ireland's leading specialist in work abroad programs, and An Garda Síochána have come together to remind students ‘A drink or drug driving conviction may stop you from going to the U.S. on your J1. Or ever’. The core message of a new campaign launched today is aimed at new and returning students across Ireland as they settle back in college and begin considering a summer abroad next year on USIT’s J1 visa programme. 

The new video campaign by the RSA, USIT Travel and An Garda Síochána tells the story of a group of friends experiencing the summer of a lifetime on their J1 visa in the United States juxtaposed against one of their peers back at home because he is disqualified from driving. The story highlights the contrast between an incredible summer abroad and the disappointment of missing out on such an experience as a result of reckless drink or drug driving behaviour.

The campaign is designed to show the consequences of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs and how a drink or drug driving conviction or disqualification may impact someone’s chances on getting a J1 visa for the summer.

Mr. Sam Waide, CEO of the Road Safety Authority had this advice for students: “If you are returning to college this autumn, you will no doubt be looking forward to great opportunities and making new connections through the fantastic social activities throughout the academic year. Please remember to drink responsibly and plan how you will get back to your accommodation at the end of the night. If you live far from campus, arrange in advance to travel home with a group of friends through a cab share or public transport. Getting behind the wheel under the influence of drink or drugs can result in fatalities and serious injuries, and the consequences can also hamper the start of any career opportunities.”

Lisa Collender, USIT, said: “Every year, we facilitate thousands of Irish students with work placements abroad. Our mission for the J1 is to help students in 3rd level colleges to spend a summer working and travelling in the USA. The J1 programme has long been a milestone in many young people’s lives, where they not only experience personal growth but also contribute positively to the vital cultural connection between our two nations. The J1 visa programme is a fantastic opportunity for students to kickstart their travel and career dreams. This is why we want students to seriously consider how these dreams can be taken away with a drink or drug driving offence. Ask yourself: is the risk worth sacrificing a summer of a lifetime working abroad?”

Assistant Commissioner, Paula Hilman, Roads Policing and Community Engagement, An Garda Síochána said: “We would like to wish everybody beginning their first year, and returning to college and university the very best. We hope that this will be a memorable and enjoyable experience. However, we want to remind everyone that college is a time in which we are preparing for the future, and as such we encourage you to enjoy yourself in a responsible manner and remember that the decisions we make today can affect our tomorrow. While the majority of people don’t drink and drive, some continue to take risks, driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.  A drink or drug driving conviction can result in a driving ban of up to six years, it could impact on travel plans and job opportunities for young people, particularly those who want to pursue a J1 visa.”

To date in 2022, a total of 114 people have died on Irish roads, 11 more than the same period in 2021.

Ireland’s Road Safety Strategy

Ireland’s fifth government Road Safety Strategy 2021-2030 aims to reduce the number of deaths and serious injuries on Irish roads by 50% over the next 10 years. This means reducing deaths on Ireland’s roads annually from 144 to 72 or lower and reducing serious injuries from 1,259 to 630 or lower by 2030. 

The strategy is the first step in achieving the 2020 Programme for Government commitment of bringing Ireland to ‘Vision Zero’. This is to eliminate all road deaths and serious injuries on Irish roads by the year 2050.

Notes for Editor:

It is an offence to drive under the influence of an intoxicant whether alcohol, drugs or a combination of both.

All drink or drug driving penalties carry a disqualification period.

In terms of drug driving disqualification periods, for those convicted of the offence of being above the legal threshold for cannabis, cocaine and heroin with no proof of impairment necessary by the Gardaí, the disqualification period is not less than 1 year for the first offence and not less than 2 years for the second or subsequent offence.

If you are found to be impaired from drugs while driving, the penalty or disqualification periods are a minimum of 4 years for a first offence and 6 years for a second or subsequent offence.

The disqualification periods for drink driving offences range from 3 months to three years for a first offence. There are increased sanctions for second or subsequent offences.

In addition to the disqualification period the court can also apply a fine of up to €5,000 and a prison sentence of up to six months.

Gardaí can set up a checkpoint to conduct random alcohol and drug testing. It is unlawful to refuse to be breathalysed, and you could be fined up to €5,000, or be imprisoned for up to six months, or both.