SCOTLAND’S drink-drive limit will be cut in two weeks’ time after MSPs agreed unanimously yesterday to back the move.
The limit will be reduced from 80mg to 50mg of alcohol in 100ml of blood from Friday, 5 December, but will remain unchanged south of the Border.
MSPs also voted to approve a Conservative proposal that “the application and penalties imposed should be proportionate”.
However, the Scottish Parliament does not have the power to vary the current drink-drive penalties for drivers caught below the current 80mg limit.
MSPs also agreed, without a vote, to a Labour move that the publicity campaign for the new limit “should cover the morning-after effects of alcohol”.
Justice secretary Kenny Mac-Askill told MSPs that one in ten road deaths –20 a year – was still caused by drink-driving, despite a reduction over the past four years.
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He said he had lobbied the UK government to permit Scotland to cut the limit for six years.
Labour justice spokesman Graeme Pearson said: “It is the right thing to do and the right time to do it.”
However, Margaret Mitchell, his Conservative opposite number, warned ministers that policing of the new limit must ensure there were sufficient officers assigned to other crimes.
Liberal Democrat justice spokesman Alison McInnes said: “The message could not be clearer – don’t drink anything if you are driving.”
However, she expressed concern that the message could be got across to all drivers before the lower limit came into force.
Glasgow Labour MSP Hanzala Malik said he favoured a much lower limit, which would remove the confusion over how much a driver could drink.
However, he acknowledged this could cause problems with some foods and mouthwash.
The Scottish Government said its campaign, which was launched on Monday, would include events in England with “high-profile partners” to help highlight the new limit to motorists south of the Border.
It is understood these will include both major organisations and celebrities.
The campaign will also involve electronic signs on major roads at the Border, information at filling stations including Tesco and Shell, and adverts on ITV Border.
Motoring groups said getting the message across in England was vital.
RAC spokesman Pete Williams said: “Having two different drink-drive limits within the UK is a recipe for confusion.”
Kevin Delaney, head of road safety for the Institute of Advanced Motorists, said: “Whilst I am sure the change to the Scottish permitted alcohol level will be widely publicised in Scotland, it is important that motorists travelling from England into Scotland are aware of the lower limit and the fact it effectively reduces by 50 per cent the amount of alcohol they can legally have in their body.”
A spokeswoman for the Scottish Government said: “Alongside our multi-media advertising campaign, we are working with a wide range of partners to inform the public north and south of the Border.”
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