Government plans lower drink-drive limit

15 June 2007

  • Consultation to consider 50mg maximum
  • Limit would be half a pint or small glass of wine
  • Plans would bring UK in line with most of Europe

This is the current drink-drive limit - soon it could be almost half this amount

The Government is looking to follow Europe's lead and lower the drink-drive limit from 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood to 50mg - meaning motorists could only drink half a pint of strong lager or a small glass of wine before being over the limit.

Before the 2005 general election, Labour proposed implementing the lower limit to meet road safety strategy and casualty reduction targets by 2010, and now it is preparing a consultation document on the matter. It is also considering allowing police to conduct random breath tests. At present they can only stop drivers they suspect of drink-driving.

Estimates suggest a 50mg limit could save 65 lives and 250 serious injuries a year.

'I think it might happen,' said road safety minister Stephen Ladyman. 'The consultation will include lowering the limit. It depends how quickly we get enforcement at 80mg.

'If you go to 50mg before you have effective enforcement at 80mg, people will just ignore the 50mg level.'

Pressure to lower the limit has come from bodies such as the British Medical Association, the AA, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents and the Magistrates' Association.

However, opposition to the move has come from distillers, brewers, the Road Haulage Association, and the National Association of Local Councils, who say it will damage businesses and lead to the conviction of motorists capable of driving safely.

At present, 22 European Union countries have a limit of 50mg or less. They are:
Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, and Sweden.

Only the United Kingdom, Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta and Romania have a 80mg limit.

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