Ministers deliberate lowering England and Wales drink-drive limit to Scottish levels if an experiment proves successful
In December 2014 the Scottish Government reduced the legal drink-drive limit to 50mg per 100 ml of blood (previously 80mg per 100 ml of blood, which is the current legal limit in England and Wales). The reduction is the equivalent to just under a pint of beer or a large glass of wine for the average man, and half a pint of beer or a small glass of wine for an average woman.
Ministers have been under pressure from road safety campaigners, and doctors, to follow suit pursuant to concerns that the drink-drive limits in England and Wales are among the highest in Europe. In response, Andrew Jones, who has ultimate responsibility for road safety, maintained:
“Britain continues to have some of the safest roads in the world because we crack down on those who break the law, and the government believes rigorous enforcement and serious penalties for drink-drivers are a more effective deterrent than changing the drink-driving limit.”
“We continue to look at the best ways to improve road safety but the drink-driving limit for England and Wales strikes an important balance between safety and personal freedom.”
However, the Department of Transport have confirmed they will be looking north of the border to examine the road safety impact of such a reduction in the legal drink-drive limit. Following such a review, Ministers will subsequently consider whether or not to lower the drink-driving limit in England and Wales to the tougher level set by Scotland.
It is evident that Andrew Jones, a transport minister, has not ruled out such a change for England. In his written Parliamentary answer, he suggested the Government could look at lowering the limit if ‘crucial’ evidence from Scotland demonstrates it has made roads safer. He confirmed he was intending to discuss with the Scottish minister about the experience of the lower limit in Scotland, and about the timescales to get access to robust evidence of the road safety impact. He said:
“It is important to base our decisions on evidence and the Scottish experience will be crucial to that before we consider any possible changes to limits in England and Wales. This government’s current position, however, remains to focus resources on enforcing against the most serious offenders.”