Changes to the drink driving laws?

Pressure continues to mount for a change to the existing drink driving laws.

At present, any driver found to have more than 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of their blood faces a mandatory 12 month disqualification from diving.  This is out of step with many EU countries which adopt a less tolerant stance by setting their legal limit at 50mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood.

The argument behind the proposed changes is that drivers who fall into the 50 and 80mg band present a significant risk to road safety so that the limit should be lowered accordingly. A key advocate for change is Sir Peter North, whose 2010 Report into the topic highlighted some alarming evidence.

The Report suggests that drivers with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of between 20 mg/100 ml and 50 mg/100 ml have at least a three times greater risk of dying in a vehicle crash than those drivers who have no alcohol in their blood. This risk increases to at least six times with a BAC between 50 mg/100 ml and 80 mg/100 ml, and to 11 times with a BAC between 80 mg/100 ml and 100 mg/100 ml.

In other words, any driver who consumes enough alcohol to exceed the proposed limit (about one pint of normal strength beer) – but who is still within the existing legal limit (about one and a half pints of normal strength beer) – has twice the chance of dying at the wheel than had he limited his drinking.

The Report does not recommend reducing the drink/drive limit to as low as 20mg/100ml for private motorists (which some lobbyists have sought), however there is a more compelling case with regard to a reduction for professional drivers of HGVs, PCVs, taxis and private hire vehicles. For example the Magistrates’ Association has openly stated its belief that HGV drivers should have a lower permitted alcohol level due to the damage that can be caused by trucks involved in accidents.

So what does 2011 have in store for drivers: 80mg, 50mg or 20mg? Watch this space…

Dyne Solicitors Limited – 01829 773100,

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