Consultation launched on reducing Scotland's drink-drive limit


Campaigners would like to see the limit effectively cut to zero

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A consultation on plans to reduce the drink-driving limit has been launched by the Scottish government.

The current UK limit of 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood has remained unchanged since 1966 and is the highest in the world.

By proposing the lower level of 50 milligrams, Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said he believed the change would save lives.

Road safety campaigners called for a "zero tolerance" approach.

Powers to alter the limit were given to Holyrood under the 2012 Scotland Act.

Driver 'confusion'

Ministers have made it clear they want to bring Scotland in line with most of continental Europe as soon as possible.

Labour and the Lib Dems support the move, although the Scottish Conservatives said the government had "yet to make the case" for reducing the limit.

Start Quote

This consultation marks another important step in tackling the scourge of drink-driving”

End Quote Kenny MacAskill Justice Secretary

Road safety charity Brake welcomed the Scottish government's plan, but campaigns officer Ellen Booth argued the moves should go further.

Ms Booth told BBC Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland programme: "It's certainly a step in the right direction, what we would say though is lowering it to 50 doesn't quite go far enough.

"Certainly there will still be a level of confusion amongst drivers."

She added: "We're saying the limit should be reduced to 20 milligrams per 100 millilitres of blood, which is effectively a zero tolerance approach so the message will be clear."

The justice minister was joined outside Holyrood by Deputy Chief Constable Tom Ewing, secretary of road policing for the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland (ACPOS), for the consultation launch.

'Devastating consequences'

Mr MacAskill said: "This government has made it clear that we want a lower drink-driving limit as we believe it will help make Scotland's roads safer.

"While drink-driving is now rightly recognised by the vast majority of motorists as dangerous and reckless, too many drivers still ignore the warnings and put lives at risk by drinking and driving.

"The consequences can be devastating for victims, their families and our communities.

"The launch of this consultation marks another important step in tackling the scourge of drink-driving."

Deputy Chief Constable Tom Ewing, secretary of road policing for the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland (Acpos), said: "There is a clear link between drink-driving and road crashes which cause death or serious injury.

"Despite extensive campaigns by Acpos and our partners in law enforcement and government, it seems that the message is not getting through to all motorists that drinking and driving is dangerous, anti-social and against the law.

"We welcome an opportunity to take part in a wide consultation on a reduction of the current drink-drive limits."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 338.

    Reducing the limit to 20mg would be the most sensible option - I believe impairment below this is negligible. Many of us enjoy a couple of glasses of wine/beer in the evening - that alcohol takes several hours to leave our bloodstream. Decreasing the limit to zero would risk catching lots of drivers out the following morning - mostly responsible people who would never knowingly drink and drive!

  • rate this

    Comment number 317.

    The reason we are not supposed to drink alcohol and drive is that it impairs your judgement, driving skills and reactions. But then so does being tired or ill. So does talking to someone in the car, being old or screaming kids in the back. Getting lost in the music maybe?. Yes reduce the limit but don't make it zero unless you intend to ban everything that reduces you ability to drive.

  • rate this

    Comment number 315.

    Who doesn't know that when you drink-drive you're heightening both the risk to yourself through the judicial process, and the risk to someone else via an accident? So how on earth are any changes going to make a difference? The idea that you can stop people from drink-driving is ridiculous. People are going to do it, and no amount of legislation is going to stop them. Just let it go.

  • rate this

    Comment number 298.

    Just make it zero and we all know where we stand and please apply the same to mobile phones, eating, drinking, hair combing, make up etc and fiddling with radio/CD players and satnavs whilst driving.

  • rate this

    Comment number 289.

    Bringing down the drink driving limit will make no difference and a no-alcohol limit would have indirect consequences (i.e. people driving the day after with a minute traces of alcohol in their blood).

    What needs to happen is a more punitive system for people who currently (and especially repeatedly) drink-drive and for people to use their common sense more.


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