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Commissioner backs calls for lower drink-driving limit

October 17, 2016

Warwickshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner has backed calls for the drink driving limit to be lowered in England and Wales.

Philip Seccombe has added his voice to the campaign by the Institute of Alcohol Studies (IAS), which is asking MPs to bring drink-drive limits in line with other parts of the UK –  a move that could reduce road deaths by as much as 10%.

Currently, the law permits drivers in England and Wales up to 80 milligrams of alcohol for every 100 millilitres of blood in your body – a limit which has been in place since 1965 but is now among the most tolerant in the world.  It is higher than in the rest of Europe (with the exception only of Malta, which recently announced plans to lower the drink drive limit ), as well as Commonwealth countries such as Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.

It is estimated that lowering our drink drive limit to 50 milligrams of alcohol for every 100 millilitres of blood would reduce drink driving deaths by at least 10%. Scotland lowered its limit to 50 milligrams in December 2014, and police figures showed a 12.5% decrease in drink-drive offences in the first nine months. Northern Ireland is set to lower its drink driving limit before the end of 2016.

There is also strong public support for lowering the limit, with the British Social Attitude Survey recently finding that three quarters of the public (77%) support lowering the drink driving limit.

There has been no reduction in the number of drink driving deaths in England and Wales since 2010, despite continued public information campaigns.  Every year drink driving causes 240 deaths and more than 8,000 casualties in the UK. This costs £800 million a year.  60% of those who are killed or injured are people other than the driver, such as passengers, pedestrians and cyclists.

Warwickshire Police and Crime Commissioner Philip Seccombe said: “Evidence from elsewhere in the UK and from across Europe demonstrates that lowering the drink drive limits would lead to significant improvements in road safety and has the potential to save lives.  It would also help to reinforce the overall message that drinking and driving is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.

“While it is still the case that the best advice is to never drink before getting behind the wheel, the drink-drive limit at present is among the highest in Europe and I think it is time that a law that was set in the 1960s – when public attitudes were very different – should be reviewed by the Government and brought in line with other countries and the rest of the UK.”

A two-minute animation has been produced by the Institute of Alcohol Studies to support this campaign, outlining the key arguments.

Katherine Brown, Director at the Institute of Alcohol Studies, said:

“Recent decades have seen great improvements in road safety, but progress on drink driving has ground to a halt. With hundreds of lives lost each year, we can’t afford to let England and Wales fall behind our neighbours in road safety standards.

“It’s time the Government looked at the evidence and what other countries are doing to save lives and make roads safer. We need to make drink driving a thing of the past, and to do this we need a lower drink drive limit.”

More information on drink driving, with fully referenced statistics and information on drink driving accidents across England and Wales broken down by region, can be found here – www.ias.org.uk/lowerlimit

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