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Still drinking and driving? Think again

11 July 2017 09:00

The debate on the maximum permitted blood alcohol limit for drivers has been reignited following the Scottish Government’s decision to lower the limit north of the border and by the recent flat lining in drink related deaths.

Surveys of the public also show a consistently high degree of support for a lower limit.

The UK legal limit was set in 1967 at a level where impairment was undeniable - 80 milligrams of alcohol for 100 millilitres of blood (0.8). Recent research suggests that impairment begins at 0.5 and lowering the limit could save at least 40 lives a year on Britain’s roads. We are now out of step with the rest of Europe where most countries have adopted the lower limit of 0.5. In 2013 260 people were killed in drink drive accidents, an increase of 30 (13%) compared with 2012 and more recently the figures have been flat lining.

Research shows that drink driving is most common amongst young drivers and that police still caught nearly five thousand drivers over the limit across England last year. However, most were stopped by routine patrols rather than as the result of a crash.

What are the penalties?

A minimum of 12 months disqualification.

At the higher levels of alcohol in the blood, a 12 week custodial sentence may be appropriate if there are aggravating circumstances.

The penalties increase if you are convicted twice within a 10 year period.