Government set to reject official report's calls to reduce drink-drive limit

North Report's recommendations set to be ignored to protect rural pubs

by Simon_MacMichael   August 24, 2010  

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

Secretary of State for Transport Philip Hammond is said to be “far from convinced that it would be a good thing” to reduce the UK’s legal drink-driving limit and is set to reject an expert review that recommended that the country fall into line with the lower levels found in several other major countries in western Europe.

According to a report in the Evening Standard, Mr Hammond, Conservative MP for Runnymede and Weybridge, is said to be concerned about the impact that any reduction in the drink-drive limit would have on country pubs, with the newspaper quoting an “insider” who said: “The minister is very sceptical indeed about this idea. He is far from convinced that it would be a good thing.”

Sir Peter North’s review of the country’s drink-driving laws, commissioned by former Secretary of State for Transport Lord Adonis and published in June this year, recommended, among other things, that the drink-drive limit be reduced from 80mg per 100ml of blood to 50mg, the same limit as applies in France, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands and Spain.

That means that drivers drinking more than the equivalent of a pint of beer could be banned from driving for a year if caught, and Sir Peter argued in his report that reducing the limit as well as other measures he proposed could lead to as many as 300 lives a year being saved.

Other recommendations of the report included 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.

Professor Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, told the Evening Standard his organisation was mainly supportive of moves to reduce the drink-drive limit. “We have broadly favoured a reduction in the drink-drive limit to bring us into line with most of Europe,” he said.

“Drink-driving campaigns have been successful but education alone has not been completely successful in eradicating what many see as anti-social behaviour,” he continued. “Research suggests 65 lives a year would be saved by a change, though it is unlikely such a policy would encourage hardened offenders — those already way above the current limit — to alter their habits."

9 user comments

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Philip Hammond would change his mind if he was hit by a drunk driver no doubt.

I like my bike but it needs a hidden 25cc motor Smile

Fish_n_Chips's picture

posted by Fish_n_Chips [380 posts]
24th August 2010 - 12:08

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The problem is that if you are going to drink and drive then you will do so no matter what figure is put on the allowable limit.

Those of us with a concience and sense of responsibility probably dont drive when any alcohol has been consumed but those that stagger to their car and drive home threatening the lives of those around will continue to do so even if there the law was no alcohol at all.

not all carbon is the same.

Jon Burrage's picture

posted by Jon Burrage [1081 posts]
24th August 2010 - 12:44

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The problem is that when it comes to our cars and road traffic in general, common sense goes out the window with there apparently being no perceived criminality attached to road traffic laws. If reducing the drink drive limit would save a large number of lives then how can you argue against it? We're talking about letting someone impair their own judgement through ingestion of toxic substances and then get behind the controls of a potentially lethal weapon. That may be over egging it a little but it's something like that. I'm not blameless myself - I'll happily have a pint with a meal and then drive my kids home in the car, something I should really think twice about but rarely do (especially as my wife doesn't drink and is invariably with us). I also speed on a regular basis, not because I'm in a hurry but because I'm clearly not bothered enough by the thought of being caught - again I should be concentrating on how much I'd think about it if one of my kids was hit because a driver was doing 40 in a 30, and would have stopped at 30.

Come to think of it, how many accidents have there been at stretches of road monitored by average speed cameras? How many would there be if the road networks were all monitored and the upper speed limit reduced to 60mph? How much money would be saved in the increased fuel efficiency figures? How much would 'ghosting' of cars and the use of unregistered vehicles increase as people tried to avoid paying fines!

posted by adscrim [131 posts]
24th August 2010 - 13:19

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Fish_n_Chips wrote:
Philip Hammond would change his mind if he was hit by a drunk driver no doubt.

Is that a threat?

Also, I don't think that is a picture of a full pint.

posted by pickles [28 posts]
24th August 2010 - 13:19

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Proper enforcement of the existing rules should be the issue. There is a diehard group of motorists who continue to break the law. They should be targeted. The reason the change was thrown out was because the statistics suggested few additional lives would be saved by tightening the law on how much alcohol is allowed. Instead there should be tougher enforcement of rules on using cellphones or texting while driving and also on people using unsafe vehicles. That would yield far higher benefits to safety that making the rules on drink driving stricter.


posted by OldRidgeback [2533 posts]
24th August 2010 - 13:57

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OldRidgeback wrote:
Instead there should be tougher enforcement of rules on using cellphones or texting while driving and also on people using unsafe vehicles. That would yield far higher benefits to safety that making the rules on drink driving stricter.

Not just for cars too.

Driving along a straight piece of road yesterday, I was amazed to see a bus approaching me that appeared to be weaving from side to side. As it passed all was revealed, the driver was resting his arms on the steering wheel and looked to reading or texting as he went.

Quick U turn in a convenient side road to get the VRN and route number of the bus and a call to Aviva. Who knows if anything will happen but he should lose his licence.

Done Nightrider 2013, 2014 and 2015 for Parkinson's UK. Next year? Who knows

jova54's picture

posted by jova54 [653 posts]
24th August 2010 - 15:01

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Jova - yep, the existing laws are good enough it's just that they aren't sufficiently enforced. Your texting bus driver is a serious risk to other road users. The laws on texting or using phones while driving are there but they aren't enforced sufficiently. One of the problems regarding road safety was that the previous government put its faith in speed cameras rather than traffic cops. Levels of policing of roads by traffic cops were reduced. And as 'any fule no' speed cameras do not pick out people using cellphones, veering from lane to lane, driving too close to other vehicles, driving under the inflence or in unsafe vehicles.


posted by OldRidgeback [2533 posts]
25th August 2010 - 11:23

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Nothing to do with lives, but with business, which is what the tories always stood for. When Labour wanted to put a stop to happy hours and raise the price of alcohol, guess who opposed?

I agree with the first post here. They all change their minds when one of their families is affected by their policies.

"Just as every cop is a criminal, and all the sinners saints".

LondonCalling's picture

posted by LondonCalling [146 posts]
25th August 2010 - 16:15

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I am on the other hand convinced that lowering the alc limit and strict enforcement of the law saves lives. Alcohol selling lobby apparently disagree. There are many bad drivers' habits in the UK, not using head lights, indicators, calling and texting while driving among the worst but dink and drive the most dangerous one. Where is the common sense?

posted by londonbrick [25 posts]
25th August 2010 - 18:31

1 Like