Lowering the drink drive limit

Without justification or clear rationale, the drink drive limit in England and Wales remains out of kilter with European standards.

Lowering the drink drive limit
With the Maltese announcing their intention to cut the drink drive limit by a third, we will soon have the highest drink drive threshold in Europe. In spite of many calls for the limit to be reduced, the Government remains unmoved on the issue.
 
Responding to recent pressure from the Local Government Authority, a Department for Transport spokesman said that rigorous enforcement and severe penalties for drink driving were more effective than changing the drink drive limit. When both would seemingly provide the strongest deterrent, I question the ‘either/ or’ approach.
 
We know that any level of blood alcohol impairs driving. Yet from speaking with local residents throughout my time as Police and Crime Commissioner, it is clear that nobody conclusively knows what they can ‘get away with’ under the current rules: a glass of wine, glass and a half, one pint…more?
 
It’s time that we stop playing Russian roulette with people’s lives. A lower alcohol limit, where one drink could cost you your license, would more effectively deter motorists from drinking at all before getting behind the wheel.
 
We’ve already seen this trend in Scotland, where since lowering the legal limit the number of drink driving offences has fallen and more importantly, attitudes have shifted.
 
In the 2016-17 Christmas drink drive survey carried out by Dorset Police, only 74% of local respondents said they would not have a drink before driving, compared to 82% of Scots who believe that drinking any alcohol before driving is unacceptable.
 
Of the Dorset residents that completed the survey, 23% said they would have one drink before driving and almost 3% admitted they would have two or more drinks. Under the current rules, a ‘safe’ amount to drink and drive is open to vast interpretation.
 
In France, motorists are required to carry breathalyser kits so that they can test themselves. Every time drivers get into their vehicle, they are provided with a physical reminder of their personal responsibility to check they are fit to drive. 
 
Our roads are among the safest in Europe, but that doesn’t mean that we should turn a blind eye to opportunities to make them even safer. 
 
Despite government complacency, we haven’t achieved any consistent reduction in drink drive related deaths since 2010. 
 
In line with my pledge, I will continue to lobby the Government to lower the drink drive limit to finally send a clear message to drivers that the only safe amount to drink and drive is none.  
 
Martyn Underhill
Dorset Police & Crime Commissioner
 

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