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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...

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."

Simon has been news editor at since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.

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