SCOTLAND WILL lead the way in the UK when the reduced drink-driving limit comes in at the end of this week, the Justice Secretary has said.
Michael Matheson said cutting the amount of alcohol motorists are allowed to have in their blood will save lives.
The Scottish Parliament last month unanimously approved measures to reduce the legal limit from 80mg to 50mg per 100ml of blood - with the change coming into force from Friday.
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An advertising campaign is now under way to make sure motorists know about the lower limit north of the border, while electronic signs telling drivers about the change have been put up on roads and at service stations in border areas.
Mr Matheson said: “Scotland will have a new lower drink-drive limit from Friday, making our roads safer and saving lives.
“Alcohol at any level will impair your ability to drive - even at the new limit you are three times more likely to die in a crash than with no alcohol in your system.
“This will bring Scotland into line with most of Europe. The evidence from the Republic of Ireland which has brought in the same lower limit suggests we will see convictions go down, reductions in drink-driving and lower blood alcohol counts.
“We are leading the way across the UK - the new limit has backing from experts, road safety campaigners and the majority of the public north and south of the border.
“When it comes to drinking and driving our advice is simple, it’s just not worth it. Don’t put lives at risk, the best approach is to have no alcohol at all.”
The Institute of Advanced Motorists last week published research which showed over two-thirds (68%) of people would like to see the lower drink-drive limit brought in in England and Wales.
As well as a media campaign to raise awareness, events are taking place at supermarkets, airports and at key train stations, such as Edinburgh Waverley and Glasgow Central, to highlight the new limit.
The Scottish Government is also working with service stations, including all Tesco and Shell-owned garages, especially those in border areas such as Dumfries, Abington, Jedburgh and Berwick-upon-Tweed.
Michael McDonnell, director of Road Safety Scotland, said: “It’s almost 50 years since the current limit was introduced and that we still lose an average of 20 lives a year in Scotland is a disgrace. Evidence from across the world demonstrates that the best results in tackling drink-driving are achieved by lowering the limit, or increasing enforcement, or both.
“We know too that a combination of high-profile enforcement, coupled with a heavyweight media campaign, is the most efficient use of resources, and we are working closely with Police Scotland and other partners to ensure that people know about the change to the limit and have no excuse.
“It’s not about catching more drink-drivers, but about preventing people from doing it in the first place. Ultimately, most of us have too much to lose, so it’s just not worth the risk.”
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