Northern Ireland’s environment minister has announced his intention to cut the drink-drive limit from its current level of 80mg/100ml to 50mg/100ml (BBC News).
Alex Attwood’s proposals would see the limit in Northern Ireland fall in line with many other European countries, but differ from the rest of the UK.
Under the proposals there would be another lower limit of 20mg/100ml for young drivers and people who drive for work. The minister also proposes, in certain circumstances, removing a driver’s right to opt for a blood or urine sample instead of a breath test.
Other plans include: a new graduated penalty regime that will allow for fixed penalties for first offences at lower limits; court prosecution for high level first offences or any second or subsequent offences; and automatic referral of offenders to an approved drink-drive rehabilitation scheme.
Alex Attwood said: “I am determined to do what I can to tackle this issue once and for all.
“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.”
Kevin Clinton, head of road safety at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), said: “RoSPA has long campaigned for a lower drink-drive limit across the whole of the UK, which no Government has yet been willing to implement.
“We support Northern Ireland’s proposal and hope that if it goes ahead the rest of the UK would follow its lead. A lower limit would save lives.”
Julie Townsend, from the road safety charity Brake, said: “We welcome these moves in Northern Ireland to help tackle the needless and costly casualties caused by drink driving.
“In particular, we support proposals for a lower drink drive limit, and random breath testing powers for police, which will provide a more effective deterrent and show that drink driving is a crime you can’t get away with. We hope to see the rest of the UK following suit on these points.
“However, Brake would like to see a tougher regime than that proposed in Northern Ireland. We advocate a zero tolerance drink drive limit of 20mg per 100ml of alcohol for all drivers, in line with evidence that even very small amounts of alcohol affect your driving. This sends a clear message that it’s always none for the road.
“We are also concerned that fixed penalties for first offences at lower limits could cause confusion, leading to some drivers believing that being just a bit over the limit is acceptable. It is not.”
Click here to read the full BBC News report.