“Missed opportunity” as drink driving limit held at 80mg

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“Missed opportunity” as drink driving limit held at 80mg

22nd March 2011

The government has announced that it will not lower the current drink-driving limit or introduce random breath testing despite recommendations from a Whitehall-commissioned report.

The recommendations by Parliament's Transport Select Committee in tandem with an independent review commissioned last year by Sir Peter North, said a reduction in the limit from 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood to 50mg would save hundreds of lives each year.

Joanna Bailey, a spokesperson for road safety charity Brake and an expert in road collisions injuries, said: "It is bitterly disappointing that in an age of consensual politics in which a survey conducted last year found that more than 7 out of 10 drivers (71%) were overwhelmingly in favour of a lower drink-drive limit, the government still refuses to lower the limit.

"Our drink-drive limit laws are hopelessly out of touch with public opinion and the weight of evidence showing just how dangerous it is to mix drink with driving," she said. "We need much tougher action by policymakers to demonstrate they are listening to public concerns on drink-driving which is currently responsible for 7 deaths and 71 serious injuries on UK roads every day."

Transport Secretary Philip Hammond stated that the number of drink-driving deaths had fallen by more than 75% since 1979 and improving enforcement rather than lowering the limit was likely to have more of an impact on drivers.

"Although the number of deaths has fallen in recent years, drink-driving still kills hundreds of people each year," said Joanna, a partner with Fentons Solicitors LLP. "About one in six road deaths are caused by drink-drivers. Research indicates that someone driving with 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood is five times more likely to crash than if they were driving without any alcohol in their system."

In his report, Sir Peter North cited new research by the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) who said that as many as 168 lives, about 7% of UK road deaths, could be saved in the first year of a reduced 50mg limit and as many as 303 lives could be saved by the sixth year.

Rather than lowering the current limit, Mr Hammond has instead promised to introduce a raft of measures to combat drink-driving. These include improved testing equipment to detect drink-drivers, as well as key changes made to streamline the enforcement of drink-driving laws.

Roadside testing could now be used as evidence in court, reducing the possibility of the effects of drinking wearing off before offenders get to a police station, leaving less time for the body to filter out alcohol and reduce the reading.

The right for people - whose breath test result is less than 40% over the limit - to opt for a blood test, is to be revoked. A more robust drink-drive rehabilitation scheme is to be introduced so that drink-drivers who are substantially over the limit are required to take remedial training as well as a driving assessment before they are allowed to recover their licence.

In addition, the procedure for testing drink-drivers in hospital is to be streamlined and existing loopholes used by high-risk offenders to delay their medical examinations are to be closed.

"Although these measures are of course welcome," said Joanna, "it is frustrating that the government has chosen to ignore evidence that lowering the drink-drive limit and introducing random breath-testing would be hugely effective in cutting the hundreds of preventable casualties that we see on UK roads each year.

"The government had a golden opportunity to reduce the drink-drive limit," she said. "They had a clear mandate from motorists to change the law and it is incredibly disappointing that the opportunity to reinforce the message that drink-driving is unacceptable, was missed."

How can Fentons Solicitors help?
Fentons has a specialist department experienced in handling claims for victims of road traffic collisions.

If you think that you have a case or require further information contact Fentons on 0800 0191 297 or fill in the online claims questionnaire.

Read more at - BBC News