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Drink Driving Rate Falls in Scotland after New Blood Alcohol Limit

By Principal Lawyer, Personal Injury

Road safety campaigners have welcomed a 19% drop in Scottish drink driving rates following the introduction of Scotland’s new drink driving limit.

Police Scotland revealed a fall in drink driving statistics this week following the new 50mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood drink driving limit that was introduced across the country on 5 December 2014.

The drink-drive limit of 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood in force across the rest of the UK is higher than all other EU countries except Malta, with 1 in 8 deaths on our roads attributed to drink drivers over the current limit.

Despite this, the UK government has insisted that it has no plans to reduce the limit in England and Wales in line with much of Europe as it would have no impact on "high risk offenders".

Although the new lower blood alcohol limit introduced in Scotland seems to have had a positive impact on drivers over the Christmas period, there were still more than 350 drivers who chose to get behind the wheel after having a drink.

The change in the law means that most motorists could be breaking the law after just a single pint of beer or one glass of wine.

As a national personal injury law firm that fights to support and compensate people bereaved or injured in road traffic accidents on a daily basis, our Personal Injury Lawyers witness the suffering drink and drug driving can inflict on devastated families following the deaths of their loved ones.

Drink and drug driving wrecks lives. By having the highest drink-drive limit in Europe we are sending the wrong message, one whereby having a drink or two before driving is acceptable. It isn’t.

At Slater and Gordon Lawyers we welcome the new lower blood alcohol limit in Scotland and the subsequent fall in drink driving rates as a result. Drink driving significantly increases the risk of crashing, potentially killing or injuring drivers, their passengers or someone else, and tragically it is always the people left behind who are forced to pick up the pieces.

The latest available road accident statistics, from 2012, show that 230 people were killed and more than 1,200 people were seriously injured in road traffic accidents involving someone over the drink driving limit.

National road safety charity Brake estimate that more than 60 deaths are caused every year by drivers who have significant amounts of alcohol in their system but who are presumed safe simply because they are under the limit.

Research indicates that drivers with between just 20-50mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood are at least three times more likely to die in a road accident than those with no alcohol in their system. This is because even small amounts of alcohol instil a false sense of confidence behind the wheel and affect reaction times, judgement and co-ordination.

Evidence from around the world shows that steps such as lowering drink drive limits and stepping up police enforcement measures such as random breath-testing are extremely effective at reducing drink drive casualties.

In England & Wales our drink driving limit laws are out of touch with public opinion and HM Government needs to take a much tougher approach towards people who choose to flout the law, and do much more to prevent the hundreds of needless deaths and injuries that we see on UK roads every year.

Katie Pendower is a Senior Personal Injury Lawyer specialising in Serious Injury Claims at Slater and Gordon Lawyers UK.

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