There is much pressure facing the Government to reduce the legal blood alcohol limit for drivers. The current limit is 80mg per 100ml of blood which would allow the consumption of roughly a pint and a half of medium strength lager for an average sized man. The proposed limit would bring it down to 50mg per 100ml of blood is less than an average pint or a large glass of wine but would match the legal limit in the European Union.
Currently anyone caught driving over the legal limit faces an automatic 12 month driving ban but Sir Peter North QC is currently reviewing the case to introduce a lesser penalty for a lower limit such as 6 points on a driving licence. Changes could also see prosecutions for drivers found with illegal drugs in their bloodstream, regardless of whether it impaired their performance.
According to the Transport Secretary Lord Adonis, over 400 people were killed as a result of drink driving last year however this figure does not reflect any incidents where drivers were above the proposed lower limit. He also suggests drug-driving is a key concern for the public.
Sir Peter added: ”Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs still leads to a large number of deaths and serious injuries. The challenge is to see whether changes in the law and its processes can reduce casualties.”
Edmund King, president of the AA remarked that “the legal issue is more complex than the limit as a sliding scale of penalties could reduce the deterrent effect. There is a serious problem with drink drive repeat offenders with recent figures suggesting that almost a quarter of drink drivers have served a previous ban.”
However, Tony Payne, chief executive of the Federation of Licensed Victuallers Associations condemned the proposals, “We will fight this very very strongly,” he said. “This will penalise responsible people because of the behaviour of some idiots.
Thousands of motorists are prosecuted every year for a drink driving offence but the punishments for speeding are far less despite it causing a significantly higher number of deaths each year.