Despite efforts and annual campaigns to tackle drink and drug driving, many people continue to break the law when getting behind the wheel.
As road traffic defence lawyers we see lives ruined all too often, especially around the festive period when people are tempted to drive during or after a night out.
We have commissioned research asking over 2,000 motorists their thoughts and experiences on driving whilst under the influence of drink or drugs.
To support the research we will be releasing a series of blogs which highlight the dangers of both drug driving and drink driving.
Following a House of Commons debate about whether to lower the drink driving limit in England and Wales, we thought we’d look at some of the reasons in favour of such a reduction.
In December 2014, Scotland lowered its limit to 50mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood. In England and Wales, the limit remains significantly higher, at 80mg. A reduction in line with Scotland would mean that just one glass of wine or pint of beer could be enough to make someone over the limit.
Although Transport Minister Andrew Jones said there were “no plans” to lower the limit in England and Wales, this doesn’t mean that it won’t ever happen. With this in mind, we thought we’d highlight five reasons in favour of a reduction in the drink drive limit:
- It's been a proven success in Scotland – drink-driving offences fell by 12.5 per cent in the nine months after the Scottish limit was lowered, according to figures from Police Scotland.
The RAC have said that 25 deaths and 95 serious injuries would have been avoided in 2015 had the drink driving limit in England and Wales been lowered at the same time as Scotland.
- Northern Ireland may be next to follow Scotland’s lead – Stormont is considering not only a lower drink drive limit of 50mg for the majority of motorists but also an effective zero limit for learner drivers and people who drive in a professional capacity.
- We’d be more aligned with other European countries – when Scotland reduced its drink drive limit just over a year ago, it brought it into line with many other European countries that have had a lower limit for many years now.
President of the AA, Edmund King, believes that reducing the limit in England and Wales will be “a sensible step to bring us into line with Scotland and the majority of European countries”. He also said: “there is now plenty of data to suggest a change would have a marked improvement in road safety terms."
- There's scientific evidence to support a lower limit – a leading scientist has pointed to the “wealth of published, peer-reviewed research” on how alcohol affects a person’s judgement and motor skills.
In an interview with the BBC, Prof Sire Ian Gilmore said: "While even low levels have an effect on these critical functions, the deterioration in performance moving from a blood level of 50 to 80mg per 100ml are striking."
- People want the limit to be reduced – public opinion in England and Wales is heavily in favour of a reduction in the drink drive limit. In a recent poll by the Northwest Evening Mail, over two-thirds of people surveyed were in favour of lowering the limit.
Road safety charity Brake has called for the Government to mirror Scotland in reducing the drink driving limit in England and Wales. A spokesperson said: “Early indications show a clear reduction in offences in Scotland which can only make our roads safer and mean fewer devastating preventable deaths and injuries.
“This would be a useful step in moving towards a complete zero tolerance of drink driving, which is the only way to make our roads safe.”
Jenny Maloney is a senior associate solicitor at Slater and Gordon Lawyers in Manchester.
Slater and Gordon Lawyers are a leading personal injury law firm with offices across England, Scotland and Wales. We have expert solicitors who can help you every step of the way with a road traffic accident claim and offer a free consultation if you were injured in a collision through no fault of your own.
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