Government to consider report on reducing drink-drive limit

Coalition ministers receive report commissioned by outgoing Labour Transport Secretary

by Simon_MacMichael   June 8, 2010  

Pint of beer (picture credit Strom Carlson:Wikimedia Commons).jpg

The government is considering a report commissioned by former Transport Secretary Lord Adonis that recommends cutting the drink-drive limit from 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood to 50mg.

The Labour peer commissioned the report last December, which was compiled by government advisor Sir Peter North and submitted on 21 May, but according to the BBC, the Department for Transport (DfT) has said that at this stage, no decision has been reached as to whether to change existing laws.

An earlier report in the Daily Telegraph had claimed that the new coalition government would proceed with the lower limit, as well as implementing a recommendation that an automatic 12-month ban be given to drivers testing positive, including those who were only just over the limit.

Lord Adonis’s successor, Philip Hammond, will now consider how to proceed with the report’s recommendations, which besides cutting the drink-drive limit, include:

  • Introducing random breath-testing of drivers;
  • Taking away the right to have a second breath test conducted at a police station;
  • Reducing the limit to 20mg for new drivers; and
  • Bringing in a new offence of driving with an illegal substance in the bloodstream that impairs the ability to drive.

According to the DfT's Think! campaign, "If you drive at twice the legal alcohol limit you are at least 30 times more likely to cause a road crash, than a driver who hasn't been drinking."

A DfT spokesman told the BBC: "We need to tackle drink driving in the most effective way possible to protect law abiding motorists. We are considering Sir Peter's report carefully and will respond in due course."

When he was interviewed by the Sunday Times in March this year, Lord Adonis said that he believed that Sir Peter would recommend changing the law.
In response, then Shadow Transport Secretary Theresa Villiers said she was "not convinced that a change would be justified".

Meanwhile, police forces across England are launching campaigns to warn of the dangers of drink-driving during the World Cup.

Thames Valley Police, which covers Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire is also targeting those who may still be over the limit when taking to the wheel the morning after the night before.
 

6 user comments

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Driving under the influence of drugs needs to be tackled rather than cutting the alcohol limit.

"Bringing in a new offence of driving with an illegal substance in the bloodstream that impairs the ability to drive."

Will be there be random testing for this also?

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2189 posts]
8th June 2010 - 13:01

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Surely the idiots who regularly cut me up can't all be drunk?

The roads are full of people not fit to hold a licence stone cold sober; I'm not sure quibbling about a few mg will help too much.

posted by wild man [279 posts]
8th June 2010 - 14:55

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Why not just end confusion over how much is too much by making it zero ml?

sponging-machine's picture

posted by sponging-machine [108 posts]
8th June 2010 - 22:06

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The process of getting a driving licence is too bloody easy! Driving isn't a civil right, it's a privilege that should be earned. Bringing in new alcohol limits doesn't tackle the core of the problem that some people are simply not not equipped with the brain-power or intelligence to sit behind a steering wheel and control a vehicle effectively and with an understanding of the consequences of getting it wrong.

simonmb's picture

posted by simonmb [360 posts]
9th June 2010 - 11:07

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Making the alcohol limit zero is impractical and unworkable - breathe in the scent of windscreen washer for instance and you'll be over the limit. Many common cleaning products or mouthwashes for instance contain small amounts of alcohol - even minimal use/contact would in other words put you over the limit. For those of us who like liqueur chocolates, the tiny amounts of alcohol would also mean they'd be a no no before driving. That's why not.

The reason the limts will be reduced has more to do with harmonising levels with our European partners than safety. The reason the UK and Sweden have comparatively low accident levels on the roads has a lot to do with the fact that rules on drink driving are enforced. In other European countries with tighter limits than the UK, rules are not enforced. The reason the French have managed to dramatically reduce road accident levels in the past 9 years has a lot to do with former president Jacques Chirac, he may not have been my favourite French politician but he did have a bee in his bonnet about road safety. The French now enforce rules on drink driving and it's no surprise the accident rates have fallen as a result. I think the fatality rate has dropped about 30%, quite an achievement.

In the UK if we switched from relying on speed cameras and increased traffic policing again to tackle the issue of unroadworthy and uninsured vehicles then perhaps we'd see a serious reduction in accidents. Drivers flouting the law account for only a small percentage of the road users as a whole but rack up very high numbers of accidents. We also need to tackle the issue of novice drivers who again account for many accidents. Toughening the laws on drink driving won't address these issues and I reckon will have minimal benefit. Those who don't drink and drive now still won't drink and drive and those who do will not change their behaviour just because the limit has been moved.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2189 posts]
9th June 2010 - 14:21

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First of all the authorities need to punish unlicenced, uninsured drivers properly. These are the high-risk drivers. Remember these are very common [up to 10% in places] and they will almost always 'do a runner' if involved in a collision.

Second, banned drivers need to be forced to pass the extended test, before being allowed to drive again.

Third, more extended and life bans [see first point]

Fourth, driving under the influence needs to be made socially unacceptable. I favour random testing.

Fifth, Causing death by careless or dangerous driving needs to be treated like manslaughter. Road-rage must be treated as attempted murder or murder.

Sixth, honesty in sentencing. No 50% discounts, after all, the victim doesn't get a discount, once dead, they're dead for ever. Offenders entenced to 15 years must serve 15 years.

If they don't like it, tough shit!

posted by Recumbenteer [145 posts]
9th June 2010 - 14:54

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