Drink-Drive Limit Will Not be Lowered in the Rest of UK

Ministers have rejected calls to lower the drink-drive limit in England and Wales after statistics showed that road casualties have risen in Scotland since tougher limits were introduced there.


What is the current situation?

In December 2014 the limit in Scotland was reduced to 50 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood, below the rest of the UK’s 80mg per 100ml, in an effort to make roads safer.

Yet the latest figures from Transport Scotland suggest this has not had the intended effect. In 2014 there were 460 drink-driving casualties, with 20 deaths. However, in 2016, two years after the limit was introduced, there were 580 drink-drive casualties, including 30 deaths.

Safety campaigners have called for the limit to be reduced and for the rest of the UK to follow Scotland’s lead, with the limit in England and Wales currently one of the highest in Europe.


Government statement

However, transport minister Baroness Charlotte Vere has now confirmed that the government believe that “rigorous enforcement and serious penalties for drink-drivers are a more effective deterrent than changing the drink-driving limit”.

Following the lack of impact in Scotland, she said that the government have no plans to change the limit elsewhere in the UK.

The subject was broached with a question in the House of Lords, and in Baroness Vere’s written answer she cited research by the University of Glasgow, which found that since 2014 overall road traffic accident rates in Scotland have risen.

Baroness Vere said: “The study found that lowering the drink-drive limit was not associated with any reduction in total road traffic accident rates or serious and fatal road traffic accident rates.

“There are no current plans to lower the drink-drive limit in England and Wales.”



A spokesman for IAM Road Smart, the road safety charity, said the government should cut the drink-driving limit despite the “minimal provable effect” of the Scottish changes, as “anything that helps prevent potentially life-threatening incidents occurring in the first place can only be a good thing”.

President of the AA Edmund King said: “All the evidence suggests that the drink-drivers who kill are way over the current limit rather than just under or just over.

“We believe targeting the hard-core drink-drivers and driving them off the road would actually have more effect than lowering the limit. For this to be effective we need more cops in cars to target the criminal drunks. The Scottish experience suggests lowering the limit in isolation has little effect on road safety.”


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