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Britain not to cut drink-drive limit

7 October 2008

The Times: October 6 reported that The UK Government has changed its mind about reducing the drink-drive limit from 80 to 50 milligrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood, despite evidence that it would save 65 lives a year.

In mainland Europe, the limit is either 50mg or 20 mg. The Republic of Ireland still has an 80mg limit but says that it will reduce it to 50 mg next year.

It is understood that a long-awaited Government consultation document, to be published within weeks, will not propose a lower limit. Road Safety Minister Jim Fitzpatrick said: “We are not convinced that dropping to 50 mg is the right answer. Drivers who are between 50 and 80mg are not the ones we are most worried about. It’s the ones above 100mg.”

The consultation document will focus on better enforcement of the existing limit. Police officers could gain new powers to stop and test drivers at random and the courts may be allowed to force repeat or serious offenders to have ‘alcolocks’ fitted to their vehicles.

The newspaper commented that road safety groups believed that the existing limit encouraged people to take chances and have a drink or two before driving. With a 50mg limit, drivers would be at risk of prosecution after just one drink.

RoadSafe does not support a reduction in the limit as there appears to be little evidence that this would reduce the number of drivers substantially over the limit. We support enhanced enforcement and embrace technology such as the encouragement of the use of alcolocks. Furthermore we actively encourage companies which take an active line in ensuring that their employees are not over the limit.

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