Notes for Editors
Roads Minister Whitty Still Undecided About Alcohol Limit Reduction
But the facts still support the current limit of 80mg/100ml
Sources close to the ABD suggest that Roads Minister Lord Whitty is still making his mind up about the proposed reduction in the permitted blood alcohol level for driving from 80mg to 50mg. Lord Whitty was last week taking the line that he is minded to reduce the limit, retaining the minimum penalty of a 12 month ban at the new level. This is despite the reports in the summer that Transport Commissioner Kinnock had backed down from his attempt to harmonise limits across Europe at 50mg. ABD Chairman Brian Gregory said today: The Government has been consulting about this issue for a year now, but the facts havent changed - a 50mg limit, especially carrying a 12 month driving ban, would hit innocent drivers hard whilst ignoring the hard core of drunks who cause danger to others.
The government must listen to reason on this issue and take measures which tackle the real problem rather than saddling the public with yet more unjust, misdirected and potentially counterproductive legislation. THE LIMIT MUST STAY AT 80mg.
The main reasons why it would be a pointless travesty of justice and an iniquity to reduce the limit are:
- Most of the people prosecuted with between 50 and 80 mg of alcohol will be responsible citizens who do not drink and drive. They will be caught out the next day when they have no idea that they have residual alcohol in their blood and when they are posing no measurable danger to the public. Every moderate social drinker will be at risk in the same way that heavier drinkers are now. THIS MEANS YOU.
- The only reason public opinion is in favour of reducing the limit is that they are unaware of this simple fact and believe that, because they do not drink and drive, the law does not affect them. If they were told the truth, their views would change.
- The 80mg limit has got Britain one of the best drink drive records in the world.
- Most countries with a lower limit still have a worse record than us.
- It is widely acknowledged that the real danger is from a hard core of drinkers who are more than double the current limit.
- There is no evidence that reducing the limit will save lives - only assumptions and wishful thinking.
- Criminalising millions of responsible citizens instead of targetting the real problem is an inappropriate use of the law.
- Public support for drink drive laws will be undermined.
- The hard core will see innocent friends losing their licences and their jobs and will have the attitude that they may as well be hung as a sheep as a lamb.
Rather, the Government should be urged to take the following positive and sensible actions:
- Retain the scientifically justified 80mg limit.
- Create a steeper escalation of penalties for those more than double the current limit - too often the deliberate drunk driver gets treated only marginally more harshly than the person who is unknowingly a few points over 80mg the next day.
- Remove the absolute minimum penalty of a 12 month ban. This was required in the 1960s when drink driving was socially acceptable but is now an anachronism which is holding back progress. Magistrates should be free to impose lesser sentences for marginal morning after convictions only.
You can read The ABDs full response to the consultation on this site.