Drivers back calls to lower drink drive limit in England and Wales

Drink driving. File picture.
Drink driving. File picture.

More than half of drivers in England and Wales want the drink drive limit cut, a new study has shown.

The RAC asked motorists whether they would back a reduction in the amount people can legally drink and drive to mark the 50th anniversary of the roadside breath test.

Of 1,727 people surveyed, 59 per cent said they were in support of a lower limit.

The Scottish Government cut the alcohol limit for drivers from 80 milligrammes per 100 millilitres of blood to 50mg in December 2014, but the legal level in the rest of Britain remains 50mg.

This means the amount of alcohol drivers in England and Wales are allowed to drink before getting behind the wheel is higher than in much of Europe.

Campaigners claim there has been little progress in tackling drink driving in recent years.

Department for Transport figures show 143 people were killed in collisions involving a driver impaired by alcohol last year, which is the same number as in 2012.

Police Scotland data shows drink-drive offences fell by 12.5 per cent in the nine months after the lower limit was implemented in Scotland compared with the same period in the previous year.

RAC road safety spokesman Pete Williams said: "Motorists are overwhelmingly in favour of reducing the current drink-drive limit in England and Wales to no more than 50mg as Scotland has already done and Northern Ireland is doing.

"Fifty years after the drink-drive limit became law, it is time for the Government to move with the times and fall in line with the large swathe of other countries which enforce a 50mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood limit."

In the year the breathalyser was introduced there were 1,640 people killed in crashes attributed to alcohol, but publicans protested to then-Transport Minister Barbara Castle that the new law could put them out of business.

AA president Edmund King said: "The breathalyser sits alongside compulsory seat belts and the introduction of EuroNCAP crash testing as the three biggest road safety life-saving measures introduced in the last half century.

"The breathalyser and subsequent campaigns saved thousands of lives and helped make drink driving socially unacceptable."