Call for more Scots drink-drive powers ahead of festive crackdown

Police officer giving a man a drink driving test
Image caption Kenny MacAskill said the UK Government has missed an opportunity to transfer drink-drive powers

The Justice Secretary has called for police to have powers to breathalyse drivers at random ahead of the festive drink-driving crackdown.

Kenny MacAskill wants powers to allow Scottish police to stop drivers at any time and to introduce new penalties.

UK Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin has written to him rejecting his request for more devolution from Westminster.

Mr MacAskill also wants a different alcohol limit for young drivers.

He said: "The statistics on drink-driving are stark.

"It is estimated that on average each year there are 30 lives lost on Scotland's roads as a result of drink-driving.

"Too many people still think it is acceptable to get behind the wheel after drinking alcohol. The UK Government has missed an opportunity to extend the very limited transfer of drink-drive powers."

Mr MacAskill was speaking ahead of the launch of the annual Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland's (Acpos) four-week festive crackdown on drink and drug driving.

"No let-up"

He said: "Additional powers to set penalties, to allow police to carry out breath testing at any time and to consider differential drink-driving limits - for example for young and novice drivers - could have saved lives.

"The Secretary of State for Transport has rejected our call to devolve these responsibilities but there will be no let-up in our efforts.

"We believe the current drink-drive limit should be reduced and the time is right to bring Scotland in line with the vast majority of Europe."

The Scottish Parliament debated Scottish Government proposals to reduce the drink-drive limit in Scotland in November.

A consultation seeking views on lowering the existing blood/alcohol limit of 80mg/100ml to 50mg/100ml closed last week, and the responses are being independently analysed.

A Scotland Office spokesman said: "The Scotland Act 2012 implemented the recommendations of the Calman Commission, and the final Calman report considered that only the drink-drive limit should be devolved.

"Further powers regarding setting different limits could not be devolved as it requires changes in primary legislation which would impact rest of the UK."

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