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Why new government must review drink driving laws

Many of us – myself included – will be heading out to enjoy a drink this Christmas.

And while most of us will act responsibly, unbelievably there is still a tiny minority who still think it’s OK to drink and drive.

Dorset Police have launched their annual Drink/Drug Drive Christmas campaign but this year there is a slight twist to it.

The Force have been trialling a fast track system which means anyone who pleads guilty to drink driving will be up before magistrates within seven days of being charged with the offence.

The message is clearer than ever this year – if you get caught drink driving you will lose your licence by Christmas and quite possibly your job and house in the new year. In addition, you could get an unlimited fine and a prison sentence.

Even worse than that, you could end up killing another motorist, pedestrian or cyclist on the way home. That would be one person who won’t be sitting down to a Christmas meal with their family this year, or any Christmas in the future, and that would be something you’d have to live with for the rest of your life.

So don’t do it. Get a cab home, get a lift home, stay at a friend’s, but whatever you do, please don’t ‘take a chance’ and drive.

 And if you’re planning to drive the day after a night out, think carefully about whether you will be safe to do so. It takes longer than you might think for alcohol to leave your system – use one of the online ‘morning after’ calculators and if in any doubt, find another way of getting around.

New Government 

Now we have a new Government in office, I will be renewing my call for the drink drive limit in England and Wales to be lowered.

At the moment, the limit stands at 35 microgrammes of alcohol for every 100 millilitres of breath, or 80 milligrammes for every 100 millilitres of blood.

This is the most generous threshold anywhere in Europe.

Scotland reduced its limit in 2014, and the only other country with a limit as high as ours had been Malta, until it introduced new measures last year.

Worryingly, a new study has found that while the number of road deaths attributed to alcohol had fallen over the last decade across most of Europe, in the UK they have increased.

Law creates confusion 

I’ve consistently argued that the current law creates confusion. Drivers have to guess how much alcohol is acceptable and whether that extra half pint or small glass of wine will push them over the limit. Nobody can conclusively say how much is too much as alcohol effects people differently.

A lower limit, or even a zero limit like that which exists in some European countries, would get rid of this confusion and send out an unambiguous signal that motorists should not drink any alcohol before getting behind the wheel.

While my calls for a national review of the current limit have until now disappointingly fallen upon deaf ears, I will certainly be among the voices pushing this issue home with the new government.

But that’s a matter for the new year. Enjoy your Christmas break. Stay safe on our roads and please don’t drive after drinking or taking drugs.

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