From this Friday, 5 December, there will be a new, lower, drink drive limit in Scotland of 50mg per 100ml of blood. The introduction of the new limit brings Scotland in line with most of the rest of Europe, a step which raises the concern as to why the UK has a higher drink driving threshold than the rest of Europe. More concerning, however, is that, while Scotland has brought into line with the rest of Europe, the rest of the UK still has a higher limit.
As this year is the 50th anniversary of the drink-driving campaign, the risks of drink driving are well known and although the campaign has had a significant impact on awareness, the rates of drink driving are still too high. Evidence from Europe supports the fact that lowering the drink driving threshold has a significant impact on the rates of fatalities and accidents. For example, the introduction of a 20mg per 100ml of blood limit in Sweden coincided with a 9.7% reduction in fatal accidents and a fall of 7.5% in crashes overall.
William Broadbent of Penningtons Manches commented: "The introduction of the new limit in Scotland will again question whether the drink driving laws in the rest of the UK should be revisited. The continued efforts to reduce drink driving are welcome and are having a positive impact. Numerous campaigns to discourage people from drink driving will be re-launched over the Christmas period and hopefully, there will be a further fall in the number of people injured or killed as a result.
"The problem with these rules, however, is that they could be interpreted as a "safe level" of drink-driving. This is not the case as any alcohol in the blood stream increases your risks of an accident and this is the message that should be promoted. The longer term goal should be a zero tolerance approach but, for the time being, the changes in Scotland are a step in the right direction."