Lower drink-drive limit proposed

  • Review claims revised drink-drive limit will save 150 lives
  • ABD blasts 'do-gooders' calling for lower drink-drive limits
  • IAM says police forces will be stretched under new laws

Plans to halve the alcohol limit for drink driving have been slammed as 'daft' by the Association of British Drivers.

An ABD spokesman said: 'This is a daft idea and it's counter-productive. This issue has been put forward by a bunch of do-gooders and sadly, what will happen is that the Transport Secretary Philip Hammond will have to bow to these demands.'

Currently the drink-drive limit stands at 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood but a review, commissioned by the previous Labour government, is recommending that be cut to 50mg.

The report says reducing the blood/alcohol limit will save 150 lives a year and if approved would bring the UK into line with most of the EU and make the UK one of the toughest countries in Europe in terms of penalties. Currently drivers caught over the drink-drive limit get a mandatory 12-month ban, but in more serious cases, drunk drivers can get sent to prison.

The limit, which has been in place since 1967, allow most people to have a single drink before driving but the strength and size of drink as well as the driver's weight and metabolism as well as the amount of food a person has eaten will shift blood/alcohol readings.

The ABD spokesman said: 'We need to have police chasing after the real offenders who really don't care about the law, and there is a chance this could be counter-productive since a person who has had one drink might consider they are already over the limit and just carry on drinking more before getting behind the wheel.'

The report was commissioned by the previous government, and presented to the new Transport Secretary, Philip Hammond, last month.

Nick Bish from the Association of Licensed Retailers said a lower limit did not necessarily mean lower offending because the UK had the lowest number of drinking and driving offences in Europe, despite having a relatively high limit.

He said: 'The reason for our success is the penalties - the enforcement is very tight, the penalties are very onerous. A year's ban, and there are the social penalties; people say, 'you are an idiot, you are a fool if you drink and drive' But in other countries the social and employment penalties are lower too.'

Neil Greig, Director of Policy and Research at the Institute of Advanced Motorists, said: 'Authorities should be aware that should it pass on to law a new limit will make little difference to casualty figures without proper enforcement. Already stretched front-line police may end up pursuing lower-risk drivers leaving less to catch those who blatantly ignore any limit.'


European drink drive limits per 100ml of blood

80mg - Irish Republic (pledged to reduce to 50mg this year), Malta, UK

50mg - Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain

20mg - Sweden, Poland, Estonia

0mg - Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary