Public calls for zero-tolerance approach to drink-driving

New research published by road safety charity Brake and insurance provider Direct Line has highlighted the growing frustration by many members of the public over the irresponsible behaviour of individuals who drink and drive.

As such, a new poll from the organisation has revealed the majority of Britons (74 per cent) would like to see a lower limit for alcohol consumption all road users in the coming years – following the lead of the Scottish parliament which implemented a lower drink-drive limit in Scotland this month.

The law in Scotland new reflects a much stricter stance on drink-driving, with the legal limit for alcohol consumption having been reduced from 80 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood for anyone found to be in charge of a vehicle, to just 50 mg of alcohol.

This lower limit should act as a deterrent to individuals who might otherwise have felt they could get away with drinking and driving, and members of the public across other parts of the UK are now showing their feelings towards the uptake of similar lower limits across England and Wales.

Brake’s survey revealed that 95 per cent of people across the UK agreed that individuals found to be repeat offenders in terms of drinking and driving should face increased fines and stronger penalties each time they are caught, while 89 per cent felt repeat offenders should also face the prospect of having ‘alcohol interlocks’ installed in their vehicles to stop them from starting the engine without first passing a breathalyser test.

Overall, more than one-fifth (21 per cent) of respondents felt all areas of the UK should follow the lead of nations like Sweden where the legal limit for alcohol consumption is even than lower than that now being enforced in Scotland, at just 20 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood.

Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive at Brake, said: “It is often said that the UK has some of the safest roads in the world, but there is no room for complacency, not least on drink-driving, which remains one of the biggest killers. The UK has now slipped off the top of the European road safety rankings, and without critical progress, including the introduction of a zero-tolerance drink-drive limit, we will be left further behind.

“The current drink-drive limit in England and Wales sends a confusing message and asks drivers to do the impossible – guess when they are under the limit, and guess when they are safe to drive. In reality, even very small amounts of alcohol impair driving, so the only safe choice is not to drink at all before driving. The law needs to make that crystal clear.”

She added that the Christmas and New Year period is traditionally a high-risk time for drink-driving offences in the UK and therefore all motorists planning to get behind the wheel of a vehicle over the coming festivities are encouraged to abstain entirely from alcohol in order to better ensure the safety of both themselves and other road users.

Politicians in Westminster are now being called upon by the road safety organisation to introduce a stricter drink-drive limit of just 20 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood for all motorists, as it believes doing so would help to stop the estimated 65 deaths that take place on average every year relating to accidents in which drivers have consumed alcohol but remain below the present 80 mg legal limit.

Rob Miles, director of motor insurance at Direct Line, concluded: “Many people don’t really know what the legal limit actually means in terms of how much you can drink. Our advice is not even to take the risk.”


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Public calls for zero-tolerance approach to drink-driving
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