Minister for Transport Shane Ross has accused some Oireachtas members of giving in to lobbying from publicans over drink-driving limits.
Mr Ross made the criticism because of a three-month delay for a bill that would impose a mandatory disqualification for any reading over the alcohol limit of 50 milligrams.
At present there is only mandatory disqualification for readings in excess of 80 milligrams.
He was speaking at the annual conference of the Road Safety Council, which heard drink-driving arrests are up 18% this year compared to the same period last year.
"Publicans are very powerful people and they appear to have been quite successful in influencing certain members of the Oireachtas," he said.
Superintendent Con O'Donohue of the Garda National Roads Policing Bureau said the increase was due to more activity on the roads, but also because of more targeted operations by the gardaí.
Professor Denis Cusack, Director of the UCD School of Medicine, told the conference that of the drivers who were killed in road traffic accidents and had taken alcohol, the average blood alcohol reading was 192mg - nearly four times the legal limit.
Fixed Charge Notice loophole to be closed
Meanwhile new laws are being introduced to close the loophole that allowed some motorists to escape convictions by claiming they did not receive a Fixed Charge Notice in the post.
Motorists who have failed to pay a Fixed Charge Notice within 56 days will receive another notice with their court summons and a final chance to pay.
People who appear in court will be unlikely to be able to say they did not receive a FCN, according to Susan Gray of the PARC road safety group, who welcomed the new law.
She said that she and members her group had attended courts where the "vast majority" of those summonsed for road traffic offences had walked from court without penalty points or a fine by saying they had not received the fixed charge notice.
Up until now motorists who received a FCN could pay up within 28 days without penalty, after 28 days and up to 56 days they could pay the charge plus 50%.
However after that they received a summons and had to go to court.