Scotland lowers the drink-drive limit

As of midnight last Thursday, tougher drink-drive laws have been introduced in Scotland, meaning that a pint of beer or glass of wine is now enough to put drivers over the limit.

Ahead of the festive season, the limit has been lowered from 80mg per 100ml of blood to 50mg of alcohol, bringing Scotland into line with the rest of mainland Europe.

However, the rest of the UK will still remain at the previous 80mg limit, leading motoring groups and police to warn that drivers caught out crossing the border could risk losing their licences.

As a result of the adjusted limit, drivers who take one pint of beer or glass of wine now risk ending up on the wrong side of the law, with hefty fines, penalty points or disqualification as a result.

The Scottish Government’s cabinet secretary for justice, Kenny MacAskill, said: “We are doing everything we can to make sure everyone is informed about the new lower level.”

“With the approval of Parliament, the new drink drive limit will come into force on December 5, making our roads safer and saving lives.”

Crossing the border

Police have said an additional 35 drivers a week could lose their licences over the Christmas period once the new limit is in force. Particularly, drivers who cross the border into Scotland after having a drink are the most at risk.

Motoring law specialist David Barton said: “This reduction will bring Scotland into line with many European countries where the limits are lower than here.

“The oddity will be crossing the border to Scotland where a driver will be legal in England but not in Scotland. This will need real care and awareness.”

Two-thirds in favour

Both drivers and motoring groups have shown support for the new lower limit, with a recent study from Motorpoint showing that two thirds of motorists are in favour of a zero tolerance approach.

Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive of charity Brake, said: “Drink and drug driving deaths and injuries are cruel and needless, ending and ruining lives and leaving traumatised families to pick up the pieces.

“We welcome the new lower limit in Scotland as a positive stepping stone towards zero tolerance. We are calling on the UK government to take action on drink driving. The evidence shows that a tough approach helps prevent casualties.”

Over the limit

The latest available government figures also show that 230 people were killed and 1,210 seriously injured in 2012 in collisions involving a driver who was over the limit.

Estimations predict that a further 65 deaths are caused each year by drivers who have been drinking but who are technically under the standard UK 80mg limit.

As a result, an online survey found that 67 per cent of 1,700 drivers polled welcomed a tougher approach from both government and police to further crack down on drink driving behaviour.