Lowering drink-drive limit ‘could let worst offenders off hook’
LOWERING the drink-drive limit could divert police from pursuing the worst offenders, Tory MSPs have warned.
• Tory MSPs have alleged that the proposed cut of the drink driving limit may criminalise less serious offences
• Kenny MacAskill says the reduced limit would halve the number of deaths caused by drink driving
• Conservative MSP Alex Johnstone accused of belittling the lower limit
Conservative transport spokesman Alex Johnstone said the planned cut from 80mg to 50mg of alcohol should not be made until its impact on police was established.
The north-east MSP said he feared the unintended consequences of “criminalising less serious behaviour and diverting police resources away from the most serious offences”.
MSPs voted overwhelmingly on Thursday in favour of a proposed cut, but the move was opposed by Conservative members. The vote was passed by 100 votes to 12.
The Scottish Government is consulting on a reduction until 29 November, but its introduction is some way off. A spokeswoman said the responses would first be independently analysed, then new legislation would have to be passed by the Scottish Parliament.
Justice secretary Kenny MacAskill said up to half the average 30 deaths a year caused by drink-driving in Scotland could be saved by lowering the limit.
But Mr Johnstone said: “At the moment, I believe that the right place for the police to enforce the law is on our streets on a Friday or Saturday evening, when those who have consumed large amounts of alcohol mistakenly get behind the wheel of a car, to the risk of the public.
“A lower limit may raise the spectre that the most productive place to enforce the drink-driving limit might be a supermarket car park on a Sunday morning, where a hard-working mother who had one glass of wine too many after she got the kids to bed on Saturday night may find herself still slightly above that lower limit.”
However, other MSPs rounded on Mr Johnstone, accusing him of belittling the lower limit.
Mr MacAskill said British Medical Association evidence showed drivers with 50mg of alcohol had twice the crash risk as those with none.
North-east SNP MSP Mark McDonald said: “If Alex Johnstone is suggesting that people will focus on soft targets, I say to him that people who are over the limit are, by definition, a problem and need to be dealt with.
“Whether they are only slightly over the limit or significantly over the limit, the point is that they are over the limit.”
Lib Dem justice spokeswoman Alison McInnes was also critical: “We must not be drawn into accepting that being a little over the limit is all right.”
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Sunday 26 May 2013
Temperature: 8 C to 16 C
Wind Speed: 15 mph
Wind direction: West
Temperature: 8 C to 12 C
Wind Speed: 18 mph
Wind direction: South