Northern Irish plan drink drive change

* Drink drive limit could drop to 50mg/100ml * Even lower limit for younger drivers * UK Government rejected lower limit earlier this year...

Northern Irish plan drink drive change

Northern Ireland is considering lowering its drink-drive limit to reduce the number of deaths and seriously injured on the country's roads.

Northern Ireland environment minister Alex Attwood says he wants to cut the limit from its current level of 80mg/100ml to 50mg/100ml. There would be another, lower, limit of 20mg/100ml for young drivers and people who earn their living from driving.

If the proposals are passed there will be different drink driving laws in different parts of the UK for the first time.

Attwood said that over the past five years, 75 people had been killed and 463 seriously injured by drivers impaired on drink or drugs.

'This is totally unacceptable and I am determined to do what I can to tackle this issue once and for all,' Attwood said.

'I have listened to the public on this. There is widespread public support for a step change in how we deal with drink drivers and I believe that what I am proposing will make a real difference.'

The UK Government announced in March that it would not be lowering the limit.

'We do not believe that widening the scope of the drink-drive offence by lowering the limit is consistent with our approach [of improving enforcement and education],' said transport secretary Philip Hammond.

'It has various operational and practical difficulties; and imposes social and economic costs, which we do not consider, on the present evidence, to be matched by potential benefits.'

Elsewhere in the UK
The Scottish Government is in favour of lowering the limit, however.

A spokesman told What Car?: 'We want to see the drink drive limit reduced from 80mg/100ml to 50mg/100ml, as the current limit currently leaves too much room for confusion.

'We would also like to give police the powers to carry out random roadside alcohol tests any time, anywhere. The power to do this sits with the UK Government, but we are seeking the transfer of powers to the Scottish Parliament through the Scotland Bill which is currently being considered.'

Changing the drink-driving laws in Wales is not currently under the Welsh Government's devolved powers.

See also: Drink driving: why we need a zero limit