Drink-drive limit will be cut to ‘one pint’

A police officer breathalyses a driver. The drink-drive limit is set to be cut following public backing. Picture: PA
A police officer breathalyses a driver. The drink-drive limit is set to be cut following public backing. Picture: PA
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DRINK-drive limits will be cut after three-quarters backed a reduction in a public consultation.

Anyone caught behind the wheel with 50mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood – down from 80mg – will be breaking the law.

Picture: Ian Georgeson

Picture: Ian Georgeson

However, the change is unlikely to happen before next year, as police equipment has to be recalibrated first.

The Scottish Government says anyone who drinks more than a pint of standard strength beer, a small spirit or glass of wine and then drives would be in danger of breaking the law.

Justice secretary Kenny Mac-Askill also wants extra powers, including the ability to instruct police to carry out random checks, but has been knocked back by the Home Office.

However, he believes the proposed change will save lives.

Mr MacAskill said: “Drink driving can shatter families and communities, and we must take action to reduce the risk on our roads.

“On average, 30 families every year have to cope with the loss of a loved one and around 900 people are treated for injuries caused by someone who thought it was acceptable to drink alcohol and get behind the wheel and drive. We cannot let this continue.”

Of the 138 respondents to the Reducing the Drink Driving Limit in Scotland consultation, 74 per cent said it should be cut.

Among those, 87 per cent agreed with the proposed 50mg alcohol level for blood, with urine and breath levels reduced by an equivalent amount.

Mr MacAskill said he expects the legislation to pass through parliament by the end of the year. However, getting Home Office permission and then recalibrating police equipment could take longer.

As far as health and road safety campaigners are concerned, it cannot happen soon enough.

Dr Dave Caesar, clinical director of emergency medicine at NHS Lothian, said: “Road traffic accidents involving alcohol are usually more severe. You are more likely to be in a worse starting point – driving at speed, taking risks you would not normally take.”

Dr George Fernie, a member of the BMA’s Scottish Council, added: “I see individuals who are in police custody or hospital because they are over the limit or have been involved in a drink-drive related road accident. Witnessing the needless harm caused by drink driving reinforces the need for a reduction in the limits.”

Kathleen Braidwood, road safety officer for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents in Scotland, said: “Far too many people are being killed on our roads as a result of people who drink and drive, so RoSPA is delighted to see that a clear majority of people are in favour of the proposal to reduce the current drink-drive limit.”

Scottish Labour justice spokesman Lewis Macdonald said: “Scottish Labour agree the drink-drive limit should be reduced from 80mg of alcohol in 100ml of blood to 50mg, bringing us into line with the rest of Europe and making Scotland’s roads safer.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat justice spokeswoman Alison McInnes added: “Whilst lowering the drink-drive limit is not a cure-all, these important new powers provide us with a further opportunity to reduce the harm caused by excessive drinking.”