Primary Navigation Mobile

Drink driving limit reduced in Scotland

  • Scotland lowers drink driving limit
  • Now aligned with most of Europe
  • Pressure is on England to do the same

Written by Debbie Wood Published: 2 December 2014 Updated: 2 December 2014

As of this Friday (5th December), a new legal limit of 50mg of alcohol in every 100ml of blood will apply across Scotland.

The new limit brings Scotland into line with most of Europe, although England and Wales currently have no plans to reduce its limit of 80mg. Only Malta and Northern Ireland share the same limit, though the latter is considering making the same reduction as Scotland early next year.

A 50mg limit would mean an average man would be limited to just under a pint of beer or a large glass of wine, and women to half a pint of beer or a small glass of wine.

However the above should not be used as a rule, as the amount of alcohol you would need to drink to be considered over the driving limit varies from person to person. It depends on your weight, gender, metabolism, stress levels, whether you’ve eaten recently and your age.

Anyone deemed over the legal alcohol limit when driving will be banned for at least 12 months and fined up to £5,000. You can also be given between three to 11 penalty driving points and be sent to prison for up to six months.

Road safety organisation GEM Motoring Assist has praised the Scottish Government’s efforts to bring about a reduction in the drink drive limit.

GEM chief executive David Williams comments: “Research shows that reducing drink drive limits is effective in reducing deaths and injuries. What’s more, the move at this time of year brings a welcome opportunity to highlight the dangers of drinking and driving.

“There is sound logic and good research to back the reduction. For example, the introduction of a 20mg limit in Sweden reduced fatal crashes by 9.7%, with a 7.5 percent reduction in all crashes. Additionally, the lower limit reduced crashes among drivers who were the most serious drink-driving offenders. So even drivers causing accidents who were found to be well above the limit reduced after the introduction of the ban, we would like to see the rest of the UK follow Scotland’s example.”

According to UK-wide figures from the Department of Transport, there were an estimated 6,680 road accidents involving illegal alcohol levels in 2012, making drink driving a factor in 4% of all accidents.

Drink-drive limits – how do we compare around the world

England: 80mg

Australia: 50mg

USA:  80mg

Belgium: 50mg

France: 50mg

Spain: 25mg

United Emirates: Zero Tolerance

Czech Republic: Zero Tolerance

Hungary: Zero Tolerance

Japan:  30mg