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Cut the Drink Drive Limit

A new study carried out by the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (Pacts) and commissioned by the Department for Transport (DfT) suggests England and Wales should cut the legal drink driving limit by up to a third for the first time since the 1960s. 

No drink driving

Since 1982, death from drink driving has decreased by nearly 50 per cent throughout the UK, but over the last decade there has been little progress in reducing drink driving deaths which make up 13% of all road deaths, nearly 250 people are still killed each year by motorists driving over the legal limit.

England and Wales have among the most lenient drink driving laws in Europe, drivers are allowed 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood, 35 micrograms per 100 millilitres of breath, or 107 milligrams per 100 millilitres of urine.

In Scotland and most other European countries it is set at 50mg/100ml of blood. This new government funded study reports the legal limit should be cut to zero for either young, professional or novice drivers, and by at least a third for everyone else.

Researchers have warned the current law does not do enough to deter people from drink driving. Since 2010, 17 per cent of drink drive offences were committed by a reoffender, and eight motorists convicted of causing death whilst driving above the limit had a previous drink/drug offence.

People who drive for a living, like some motor trade employees and taxi drivers for example, should be punished if found to have any alcohol in their blood whilst working, it could invalidate their private or motor trade insurance policy.

Executive Director of PACTS, Mr Davies, said: “Drink driving is often cited as a road safety success story, yet it remains a major killer and progress has ground to a halt since 2010.

The legal limit should be reduced in England and Wales, police should be given additional powers to test drivers, and the growing danger of combining drink and drugs driving needs to be addressed.

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Scotland introduced a reduced drink drive limit in 2014, in line with most other countries in Europe. It has been accepted by the public; it has not significantly impacted pubs and restaurants or overloaded the police or the courts. Northern Ireland plans to go further, with a zero limit for novice and professional drivers.”

As there are no guidelines on the number of drinks allowed to stay on the right side of the law, there is no way of drinking and staying under the legal drink drive limit. In a straw poll, most drivers drinking will limit themselves to around one pint or one glass of wine, but people of different ages, weights, and alcohol tolerance process alcohol at different rates.

Ministers are now being advised to change the law, so drivers are not allowed to consume any alcohol before they get behind the wheel. The Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (PACTS) report said “a lower limit would have a totemic impact and long-term benefit. The dangers of driving with even low levels of drink and drugs make a lower limit more relevant”.

The study also reports the coronavirus pandemic has seen an increase in the number of people with alcohol and mental health issues, along with road traffic speeds!