Legal expert urges Government to reduce drink drive limit

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Legal expert urges Government to reduce drink drive limit

16th June 2010

A specialist in serious and fatal road collisions has urged the Government to follow new recommendations and halve the current UK drink-drive limit.

A report presented to new transport secretary Philip Hammond last month is expected to say that more than 150 lives could be saved each year by reducing the existing limit of 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood to 50mg.

Deborah Johnson, a specialist in cases involving serious and fatal injuries with Fentons Solicitors LLP, urged the Government to immediately implement the changes to the limit, which has been in place since 1967.

"This change would give the UK one of the toughest regimes in Europe, something campaigners have been demanding for years," said Deborah, a partner with the firm and a trustee with road safety charity Brake. "Some of the most serious incidents I've ever dealt with involved drivers who had been drinking and it is time that calls to reduce the limit were taken seriously."

Deborah, who has spent many years helping victims deal with the effects of drink driving, said that although the review had been commissioned by the previous government, she hoped the new coalition would adopt its findings.

"You don't need to drink massive quantities to be 'over the limit', but some people's reflexes can be affected by only one drink," said Deborah. "There are many other factors to consider too - the strength and size of the drink being the most obvious. An individual's height, weight and metabolism can also play a large part in how they are affected, not to mention how fast a person drinks and how long ago they stopped drinking," she said.

"People should be aware that alcohol can stay in the system for many hours - even overnight - so driving anywhere the morning after a drinking session could still put you over the limit," she said.

It is believed the report will also recommend scrapping rules which allow drivers close to the limit to insist on a blood or urine test at a police station.

"The breathalysers carried by traffic police nowadays are much more accurate than those from years past," said Deborah. "It is widely known that the delay caused by driving a suspect to a police station can mean their alcohol level falls below the legal limit by the time a follow-up blood or urine test is carried out. Scrapping this rule will help police get more irresponsible drink-drivers off the road."

If the limit were lowered and the current mandatory 12-month ban for drink-drive offenders kept in place, the UK would then have one of the toughest stances on drink-driving in Europe.

"No-one is trying to say we should not be able to have a drink and enjoy ourselves, but the fact remains that drinking and driving ruins people's lives," said Deborah. "We have seen countless cases where someone has been seriously injured or even killed because they have been involved in a collision with a driver who was under the influence."

Most EU countries - 50mg/100ml blood
France, Spain and Germany - 50mg/100ml blood
Ireland and Malta - 80mg/100ml blood
Ireland pledged to reduce to 50mg/100ml in 2010
Sweden, Poland and Estonia - 20mg/100ml blood
Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary - 0mg/100ml blood
Sources: Brake and EU Commission

How can Fentons Solicitors help?
Fentons has a specialist department experienced in handling claims for victims of serious injuries arising from road 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.

Source: BBC News