CFOA are pleased to see that Lord Brooke of Alverthorpe has put forward a Private Members Bill in the House of Lords to reduce the drink drive limit. The Road Traffic Act 1988 (Alcohol Limits) (Amendment) Bill would lower the limit from 80 milligrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood to 50 in a 100, in line with limits in place in Scotland and many other countries in Europe. The bill received its first reading on the 3rd June 2015 and will go to more formal debate at a later date.
The LGA and CFOA have called on the government to lower the drink drive limit as part of our joint First 100 Days campaign. The campaign suggests a number of costed policy and legislative changes the new government could implement to make the people of the UK safer. Figures from NICE produced in 2010 estimate that lowering the limit could save as much as £285,000,000 annually, with between 77-168 deaths and nearly 5,000 crashes avoided each year.
The UK is one of only two countries in Europe – the other being Malta – to maintain a 80mg drink drive limit. A person is three times more likely to have a fatal crash with just one drink in their system, and at the current 80mg limit, they are six times more likely to have a fatal crash. Some 6.4% of people surveyed as part of the ONS crime survey in 2012/13 admit to drink driving at least once or twice a year, which if replicated in the population at large represents some 1.9 million of the UK’s 30 million drivers.
Of course, many people exceed the drink drive limit without realising it, either because they are not able to accurately judge the amount of alcohol they can drink while remaining under the limit, or often because they are driving the day after a heavy night’s drinking and are unaware they are still over the limit. A lower limit would remove this ambiguity and make it clear that even one drink is too many.