A Bill read in the House of Lords today (29 January) which would see the drink-drive limit reduced across the whole of the UK has been met with widespread support.
The Bill proposes amending the 1988 Road Traffic Act and would see the blood-alcohol concentration limit lowered from 80mg alcohol per 100ml of blood to 50mg – bringing it in line with Scotland.
The new lower limit was introduced in Scotland in December 2014 and a report by the RAC Foundation and PACTS (published in December 2015) suggests that around 25 lives could have been saved if England and Wales had the same lower limit.
While Police Scotland figures show a seasonal spike in drink drive offences in December, overall 7.6% fewer drivers were caught over the limit in Scotland in 2015 compared to the previous year.
Earlier this month a Bill was passed by the Northern Ireland Assembly that would see the lower limit introduced there.
Sir Graham Bright, Cambridgeshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, is one of nine PCCs backing the Bill, which is sponsored by Lord Brooke of Alverthorpe.
Sir Graham Bright said: “Alcohol affects driving ability and the current limits are too generous and should be reduced.”
The Alcohol Health Alliance has also backed the Bill saying the move would ‘save lives and improve road safety’, while the RAC has urged the Government to ‘listen to motorists opinion’, and ‘consider carefully what is happening in Scotland’.
Nicholas Lyes, public affairs manager for the RAC, said: “The 2015 RAC Report on Motoring shows that there is support from motorists for a lower drink-drive limit. More than half of motorists think the blood-alcohol limit should be reduced at least to 50mg/100ml from the current 80mg/100ml level.”
However, there is some opposition to the new limit. A poll carried out for SmartWitness suggests that 62% of drivers in England, Wales & Northern Ireland do not want an extension to Scotland’s ‘one-pint-and-you’re-out’ clampdown.
Paul Singh, SmartWitness chief executive, said: “This new research shows that there is no desire to extend the Scottish drink driving clampdown to the rest of the UK.
“Drink driving offences have been falling steadily since 1979 and there has been a huge reduction in drink driving accidents in the same period – down from 20,000 a year to around 6,000.”