|London, 30 Nov 1998.
For immediate release.
But, as usual, the Government won't be telling us the whole story. As usual, the emphasis will be on drinking at parties and pubs and then driving home. As usual, no mention will be made of the possibility of being unwittingly over the limit many hours after drinking - the next morning, even the afternoon or evening following a particularly excessive Christmas Party.
Everyone seems to have forgotten the simple rule "what goes up must come down".
"To omit the morning after issue from publicity is scandalous" said the ABD's Brian Gregory. "It can only lead to many people who never drink and drive being unwittingly over the limit."
People like Suffolk Labour MP Jamie Cann have been caught with alcohol levels almost double the limit without thinking for one moment that they are committing any offence. Morning after alcohol levels of this magnitude are putting both the public and the drivers themselves in quite unnecessary danger, as such people would undoubtedly take sensible precautions were they aware of the problem.
But there's more. There is evidence from research into alcohol problems * that a morning after driver with a given blood alcohol concentration is much safer than a drink driver with the same amount in his blood. This means that those caught out just over the limit the day after drinking are unlikely to be posing any danger to anyone and will be very unlikely to have any idea that they have any alcohol left in their system at all.
Subjecting such individuals to the same 12 month driving ban as deliberate drink drivers is a profound injustice. Not to warn them in advance that this may happen to them is scandalous.
The answer to a law that has an element of injustice within it is not to cover up this injustice as the Government are doing by keeping drivers in the dark about the morning after, but to reform the law so that it is more just.
Instead, the Government are simply proposing to make this injustice worse by reducing the limit from 80mg to 50mg, putting an even greater number of innocent drivers at risk.
* "Loosening the Grip", by Kinney & Leaton (ISBN No: 0-8016-2769-9), is a reference book used by practitioners dealing with alcohol problems. On page 47 it states that: "A drinker is more out of commission when the blood alcohol level is climbing than when it is falling ... As the blood alcohol level drops in the elimination phase, the individual, when similarly tested, will be able to function better with the same blood alcohol content."