Survey highlights ‘growing public demand’ for lower drink-drive limit

12.00 | 12 December 2016 | | 4 comments

A new survey by Brake has indicated ‘a growing public demand’ for the Government to reduce the drink-drive limit, according to the road safety charity.

Published today (12 Dec), 78% of respondents to the survey expressed their belief that the existing drink-drive limit is too high, while 54% think the limit should be reduced to an effective zero tolerance limit of 20mg/100ml.

The survey also suggests that eight in 10 drivers think their driving is affected at around the current drink drive limit or below, while more than 40% of respondents said their driving ability is affected by just one unit of alcohol.

The drink-drive limit in England in Wales, which was set in 1965, currently stands at 80mg alcohol/100ml blood. In 2014, Scotland lowered its drink-drive limit to 50mg/100ml – bringing it in line with the rest of Europe (with the exception of Malta), and Northern Ireland is currently consulting with a view to moving to the lower limit.

In October, a coalition of road safety stakeholders, emergency services and health experts issued a call for the Government to reduce the drink-drive limit in England and Wales.

However, last week transport secretary Chris Grayling confirmed the Government had no intention to lower the limit, suggesting doing so would divert police attention to the ‘wrong offenders’.

Brake points to statistics which show that one in eight (13%) road deaths on the United Kingdom’s roads are caused by drink-driving. The charity also says this figure is in line with evidence that even 20-50mg/100ml alcohol in your blood makes you at least three times more likely to be killed in a crash – a key reason why it is calling for a zero tolerance drink-drive limit.

Gary Rae, director of communications and campaigns, said: “Drink-driving, despite being more socially unacceptable, is still a major issue on our roads, especially as our current, legal drink-drive limit in England and Wales is the highest in Europe. This sends a confusing message and asks drivers to guess if they are under the limit.

“Equally confusing is the stance of secretary of state for transport Chris Grayling, who said that the drink-drive limit wouldn’t be cut to penalise motorists for ‘having a glass of wine at the pub’.

“Cutting the drink-drive limit would be putting road users’ safety first and the reality is that a small amount of alcohol can impair your driving, as the evidence shows.”

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



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    In the absence of any response from the external research agency that undertook the survey for Brake & Direct Line here is some worthy academic research entitled “Grand Rapids Effects Revisited”, which another thread on RSGB led me to. This is a German study I found on an Australian website that hosted the 13th International Conference on Alcohol, Drugs and Traffic Safety (T’95). The link to the paper is:

    “Considering the incidence of DUI,(driving under influence) it was argued that effective countermeasures that substantially reduce the number of accidents attributable to the effects of alcohol should be directed towards drivers with BACs greater than 0.08%. This also implies that simply changing the legal DUI limit from 0.08% to 0.05% is insufficient with respect to alcohol-induced accidents as the potential reduction would be only about 4%.“

    So, please bring out the academic research and evidence to support lowering the drink drive for us to delve into and weigh in the balance. Evidence based decision making please.

    Pat, Wales
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    Motorcycle death statistics in America show that some 4.500 riders are killed annually over there and it been at that level for the last 10 years. In postmortem each one is checked for alcohol and the majority are found to have alcohol in their system, some that were over the legal drink drive limit and many not. That said, it is a well known fact over in the states, well known by those in road safety and training that alcohol has a large part to play in their annual mortality rate.

    Bob Craven Lancs
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    I think it indicates the underlying attitude of survey to class even those drivers who do not break the law by staying within the legal limits when having an alcoholic drink as “offenders”. Is that not survey bias?

    Guzzi, Newport
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    Interesting piece. Can the external research agency that undertook the survey for Brake & Direct Line please provide some contextual information on how, who, where, when the 1000 drivers who took part in the survey came from. i.e was it a statistically random sample of drivers in a survey taken ‘cold’ in a neutral environment?

    Pat, Wales
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