Government commissioned report has advised ministers to lower the UK’s legal drink-driving limit
16 June 2010

A government commissioned report has advised ministers to lower the UK’s legal drink-driving limit - and the changes are expected to be made law.

The current limit is 80mg per 100ml of blood. The suggested 50mg limit would bring the UK in line with most other European countries.

The National Institute of Clinical Excellence claims the limit could save 168 lives in the first year of it’s implementation

Among other proposals included in Sir Peter North's report are an increase in random stops by the police, and lifetime driving bans for those caught more than once.

However, concerns have been raised as the proposed reduction could put motorists over the limit after just one drink.

North also added that an even lower limit for young drivers should be considered.

James Lewis-Barned

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31

16 June 2010

To be perfectly honest, the lower the 'allowed amount', the better. I can't drink for medical reasons, but even if I could, I'd never drink before getting into a car. It'd make it safer for everyone - drivers, pedestrians, drinkers. And it'd put an end to the "ah go on, just have one!" nonsense!

"The creative adult is the child who survived."

16 June 2010

[quote Autocar]The National Institute of Clinical Excellence claims the limit could save 168 lives in the first year of it’s implementation[/quote]

Illogical though, how is this proposed toughening of the law going to deter the very significant number of breath test failures who are already over the existing limit, some by massive amounts?

16 June 2010

I agree with this completely, i cannot see any reason why this shouldnt become law. Especially the lower limit for younger drivers. Plus the life time ban, if caught more than once is absolutely right. once a few people get banned, others will wake up and realise they are not kidding!! I would add that i do drink.

16 June 2010

I have to admit I was one of the idiots who used to drink drive... I was caught 6 years ago and learned my lesson with a 12 months ban! Anyway, i don't think the most important thing is the length of the ban or lowering the limit. What I really don't understand how it is possible that if we are really serious about "removing" drink drivers from the streets there aren't any random checks on the streets. I am ready to bet that if a few police cars would make some checks in Central London on a Friday or Saturday night they would catch at least 30% of the drivers being over the limit! This is really the only way to prevent it. They did this in France a few years ago and it decreased the problem hugely!

16 June 2010

Deppi: you are absolutely right, there is no point changing the law, if they don't actually police it!

16 June 2010

There shouldn't be a lower limit, zero tolerance, a four figure fine based on the severity of said crime,and if warranted, crush the car and a custodial sentence, sounds harsh i know , but people get killed and families suffer for the rest of their lives.

Peter Cavellini.

16 June 2010

One of the biggest problem is the lack of being able to self test to ensure that you're not drunk driving. There are no easy way to test yourself that you can rely upon. Therefore for any sensible driver the lowering from 80 to 50 is meaningless.

According to the BBC this morning the UK already has one of the lowest Drink Driving rates in Europe. The question must be why? Is it that we don't test as frequently as our European friends, or because our driver education is better?

Until you know more about the statistics of those caught drunk driving you can't make a truely informed decision as to if 50 will make any difference from 80. After all, that's simply a legal detection level and irrelevant to driver who's already three times over!

16 June 2010

[quote Symanski]One of the biggest problem is the lack of being able to self test to ensure that you're not drunk driving. There are no easy way to test yourself that you can rely upon. [/quote] I think they're doing breathalysers now where people can test themselves... I'm sure I saw an advert for such devices in a car magazine recently. Even better, Volvo's idea from a few years ago whereby a breathalyser is built into the seatbelt somewhere. And of course, there needs to be more policing if such a thing is to succeed - you see them pulling all kinds of people over on Road Wars etc, so why doesn't this happen everywhere else?!

"The creative adult is the child who survived."

16 June 2010

An interesting debate and I for one have actually read a decent chunk of Sir Peter's report.

Firstly in respect to random breath testing powers for the police. We pretty much already have them in all but name. A police officer has the power to stop you driving and check your driving documents are in order. If the police officer then develops a suspicion that you have consumed alcohol (usually the smell from your breath!) he has the power to demand a breath sample from you. If you fail, he can arrest you.

Furthermore Sir Peter's report shows that ratio of people tested to people convicted did not rise the more people were tested (in fact it fell).

I for one am not yet convinced a lower limit is required. The detail of the report shows the estimated numbers of lives saved should be treated with caution and one estimation suggests that the number of lives saved could be as low as 43 as opposed to 168 in the first year.

Ah, I can already here people shouting that 43 lives saved is better than none etc etc. Where do we stop with this line of thinking? Should we all drive with a man walking in front waving a flag... ? Should we insist that all people drive Volvos? As for the 'ban people driving for life' approach- having the death penalty in the states doesn't prevent murders ie. there is no direct correlation between committing an offence and the punishment.

Another apparent flaw in the report is the assumption that that 'accidents involving alcohol' actually meant that the alcohol was to blame. It does not seem to go into detail so if two cars are involved in a fatal car crash and one driver had consumed alcohol- it assumes that this driver was to blame. I'm sure it often is but i cannot be automatically assumed.

I know I'm yabbering on... so I'll carry on. The police for the past two years have been recording the breath samples of everyone tested and passing the info to the home office. This would clearly show how many drivers are driving with the equivalent of 50-80-mgs of alcohol in their blood. It could also show what number caused a fatality. This information is not in the report that I could see and would surely provide damning evidence??

There is one part of the report I agreed with. The removal of the statory option should occur and the breath sample should be accepted as accurate.

The comments section needs a makeover... how about a forum??

16 June 2010

[quote Symanski]One of the biggest problem is the lack of being able to self test to ensure that you're not drunk driving. There are no easy way to test yourself that you can rely upon. Therefore for any sensible driver the lowering from 80 to 50 is meaningless.[/quote]

True, but not terribly relevant to this discussion in my opinion, I think we all know when we've drunk too much to be able to drive safely, problem is though, that realisation often only sets in the following morning...

There's also the physical make-up of the individual to consider, and their tolerance of alcohol, it may be the strict letter of the law, but it's clearly wrong to say that anyone under 50ml is 'safe', and anyone over 50ml, or indeed 80ml is 'dangerous'. I've known habitual heavy drinkers who show no outwards signs of slurred speech, unsteadiness, or anything like that, and they appear to be as competent behind the wheel after a few drinks as they would be if they were ever sober (I'm not condoning this of course, and I'd never be a party to it, or travel with them), but my wife (bless her!), is visibly impaired after a single glass of wine. She'd never drive after a drink, but in the eyes of the law, she'd be legal and 'safe'. There's just no fair way of legislating for this kind of thing, and a zero limit would make 'criminals' of almost all of us at some time or another.

I've really no idea what the solution is, but I just don't believe that a lower drink/drive limit will have any significant effect of road safety, any more than speed cameras have done, as most of us will readily admit.

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