Police call for drink-drive limit reduction

Police call for drink-drive limit reduction

Motorists in England and Wales will face drink-drive charges after one pint of beer, if a leading police body gets its way.

The Police Federation wants to see the legal limit reduced in line with the changes made in Scotland last year.

This would mean that limits are set at 50 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood, instead of the current 80mg - a 37.5% reduction. The body's call was echoed by a recent RAC survey which found many drivers want a uniform lower limit throughout the UK.

The amount of drink-drive-related crashes and injuries has gradually dropped over the past 36 years.

RAC chief engineer David Bizley: "While it's important to remember that there has been a steady reduction in the number of drink-drive casualties in recent years, thousands of people are still injured or killed on our roads as a result of someone being over the legal limit.

"The issue clearly remains a highly charged one, with more than a third of motorists telling us that they want to see the limit in England and Wales brought into line with Scotland, and almost a quarter wanting to go the way of some other European countries with a zero limit. Nine out of ten motorists also said that having different drink-drive limits north and south of the border was a recipe for confusion.

"The Government says that tackling drink-driving in England and Wales is a priority, but the simple question is now this - with a significant weight of opinion behind a reduction in the limit, are there any solid reasons to oppose one?

"Aside from a new limit, the other side to reducing drink-driving is greater enforcement of the existing law - something that the RAC called into question in February when we revealed the 23% drop in the numbers of full time traffic police officers on our roads."

The Police Federation, which represents around 124,000 rank-and-file police officers, believes the reduction in incidents is mainly down to more responsible male motoring. It wants more action taken to specifically dissuade female motorists getting behind the wheel when drunk - claiming drink-drive rates among women have not fallen parallel to men's, with most warnings failing to "get through".

The number of men pulled over for drink-driving still exceeds that of woman. But convictions involving female drivers are not going down so quickly, while males have altered their behaviour.

Police Federation Victoria Martin, speaking on BBC's Radio 4, says the latest statistics imply that women aren't changing their drinking habits. She told the Today programme that anti-drink-drive warnings are not penetrating female consciences.

Female drink-drive cases have virtually flatlined since 2005 while male ones had halved, Ms Martin said.

The percentage of women drink-drive convictions in Scotland has almost doubled over a 14-year period, according to a Social Research Associates study reported in 2014. The proportion of women drink-drivers was 9% during 1998 but 17% in 2012.

Soberistas, the social network site, said women do not connect with drink-drive warnings in advertising and public health initiatives - largely because they are not featured in them.

The Government said it has bolstered drink-drive enforcement by taking away the rights of motorists to demand urine or blood tests after failing breathalysers. This means there is insufficient time to become sober during the intervening waiting time.

Latest figures suggest that Scotland's lower drink-drive limits are having a positive impact. Drink-drive prosecutions have dipped by a third since the new ceilings were introduced.

Copyright Press Association 2015