‘No need to cut drink-drive limit’ as fewer motorists break the law
PLANS to cut the drink-drive limit in Scotland should be reconsidered following a significant fall in convictions, a motoring group has said.
The Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) said lowering the limit could stretch police resources and lead to many drivers being caught who were not causing problems on the roads.
The call came after Scottish Government figures showed total convictions had fallen by one third from 8,071 to 5,348 over the four years to March last year.
Ministers are to publish proposals later this year to cut the limit from 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood to 50mg after being handed the power in the Scotland Act, which was passed last month. However, Neil Greig, the IAM’s Scotland-based policy and research director, cautioned against its introduction.
He said: “There is a long-term downward trend in drink-driving, which shows the message is getting over. To a certain extent, this calls into question the need to reduce the limit.
“It would mean an awful lot of people being caught who are not causing any problems, such as fatal crashes, and risks diluting resources.”
Mr Greig added that unlike other European countries which had adopted the lower drink-drive limit, the Scottish Government will not have the power to reduce the penalties for drink driving, which remains reserved to Westminster.
Despite the fall in the figures, two of the three Scotland-wide seasonal police campaigns since have shown increases in the number of drivers caught.
During last summer’s two-week offensive, the total went up by 12 per cent, or 26 to 238 compared to the previous year.
A similar increase was recorded during the four-week campaign last Christmas, when numbers went up by 52 to 478, although this followed the big freeze of the previous winter.
Police said figures were “marginally down” in the first week of the current two-week campaign, which ends today.
Scottish forces have also asked courts to seize some 300 vehicles to be crushed or sold since a pioneering vehicle forfeiture scheme was launched north of the Border in 2009.
Originally targeted at repeat offenders, it has since been extended to drug drivers, first-time drink-drive offenders caught three times or more over the limit, and those refusing to be tested.
West Scotland SNP MSP Stewart Maxwell, who requested the drink-drive figures, said: “Drink driving is blamed for 39 deaths and 170 serious injuries a year on Scotland’s roads.”
A Scottish Government spokeswoman welcomed the fall in convictions, but said the limit would be cut because too many drivers were still flouting it.
She added: “This is good news and shows hard-hitting campaigns warning of the dangers of drink driving are having an effect. We are still seeing hundreds of drivers each year ignore the warnings and put lives at risk.
“This is why we have long called for a reduction in the drink-driving limit to 50mg, which would bring Scotland into line with the rest of Europe.
“Having secured the powers through the Scotland Act 2012, the Scottish Government will bring forward proposals later this year, with a view to consulting on these as soon as possible.”
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