LGA joins calls for Government to lower drink-drive limit

12.00 | 6 March 2017 | | 6 comments

Local councils and fire and rescue authorities are calling on the Government to lower the legal drink-drive limit in an effort to help cut alcohol-related collisions.

The Local Government Association (LGA), which represents more than 370 councils and all fire and rescue authorities across England and Wales, has made the call on the back of DfT figures which show that the number of collisions where at least one driver was over the alcohol limit rose by 2% to 5,740 in 2015.

Published last month, the provisional figures also show there was a statistically significant rise in the number of people killed or seriously injured (KSI) during 2015 – the figure of 1,380 is up from 1,310 in 2014.

As a result, the LGA is asking the Government to drop the current limit from 80mg to 50mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood in England and Wales – something which happened in Scotland in December 2014.

The LGA points to figures showing that in Scotland, there was a 20% reduction in fatal road accidents in the first year after the new limit was introduced. It also points to research which estimates that lowering the drink drive limit could save up to 170 lives in the first year of implementation, rising to more than 300 lives in the sixth year.

In December 2016, transport minister Chris Grayling confirmed that the Government has no intention of lowering the drink-drive limit in England and Wales.

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Cllr Simon Blackburn, chair of the LGA’s safer and stronger communities board, said: “England and Wales will soon have the highest drink drive limit in Europe which is not sending the right message to motorists and safety campaigners.

“The Government should be leading by example by toughening up drink drive laws in line with other European countries which will make roads safer and save lives. In Scotland alone, adopting a lower alcohol limit has led to a significant fall in fatal road accidents.

“Fire and rescue authorities, which run hard-hitting road safety campaigns to tackle drink driving to show the tragic consequences of road traffic collisions, want to see a lower alcohol limit introduced as it would help to reduce these fatal and traumatic accidents.

“A lower alcohol limit would help to deter motorists from drinking at all before getting behind the wheel and encourage them to have ‘none for the road’.

“With Northern Ireland set to follow Scotland’s example, and numerous organisations supporting a lower alcohol limit, the Government should examine the evidence from other countries and lower the drink drive limit in order to improve public safety.”

Want to know more about drink-driving and road safety? 
Online library of research and reports etc – visit the Road Safety Knowledge Centre
Key facts and summaries of research reports – visit the Road Safety Observatory


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    Unfortunately the law is not just black and white in this case. Whilst it would appear no drugs are required to be measured to be considered unlawful but in the case of the most common of drugs ie alcohol then the law steps in and says that you can have a certain amount of alcohol in your system. Have an accident, maim or kill someone and still drive being under the limit, but be over the limit and you can’t or rather shouldn’t.

    Bob Craven Lancs
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    As I keep mentioning, it is illegal to be in control of a vehicle whilst “unfit through drink or drugs”. There is no numerical limit for this.

    David Weston, Corby
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    I don’t see how any government could be so irresponsible as to encourage any prospective driver to have one for the road. Its like giving a person holding a gun some ammunition for him to kill or injure with.

    Especially when it is well known and substantiated that any amount of alcohol, a drug by any other name, will have a bearing on the cognitive and motor functions impairing the ability of any prospective driver and making our roads of greater danger.

    Nil by mouth is the only sensible way to go and then police it until all drivers all over the country will know just where they stand and what the consequences are should they break the law.

    Bob Craven Lancs
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    It is rather dubious to use the Scottish figures as an example of success for the reasons given in response to the previous RSGB article. http://www.roadsafetygb.org.uk/news/5502.html

    Pat, Wales
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    I’m always sceptical when I see claims made based on a one fall (or rise) in casualty data. The 20% reduction in Scottish road fatalities needs to be considered in relation to the 16% increase the year before (see the graph here: http://www.gov.scot/About/Performance/scotPerforms/indicator/roaddeaths). I’m not sure that anything can be assumed from the return to trend after a one-year freak increase like that is a good idea at all. In fact looking at the graph, the safest assumption in relation to the change of the legal alcohol limit is that it has made no apparent difference to the recent slight downward trend in road fatalities at all.

    Charles, England
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    It would be interesting to hear from the police if they are frustrated by instances where their attention had been caught by someone driving in a manner risky enough to suggest they might be under the influence, but when breathalysed, where found to be under the current limit but would have been over the proposed lower limit and therefore actionable and a possible collision prevented. Is it the police’s experience that a lower limit would make a difference?

    Hugh Jones, Cheshire
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

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