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Police call for cut in drink-drive limit

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A cut in the blood-alcohol limit in Scotland appears to have reduced drink-driving. Should England and Wales follow?

Drink and keys

Police officers in England and Wales want the government to slash the drink-driving limit following the success of a similar move in Scotland.

According to Police Federation, a cut in 2014 to the permitted blood-alcohol limit in Scotland led to an immediate fall in failed breathalyser tests.

'Road safety first'

As such, the limit in England and Wales should likewise be reduced from the current 80mg per 100ml of blood to 50mg, the organisation said.

Victoria Martin, spokeswoman for the Federation, said this was part of its attempt to put "road safety back on the national and local agenda".

According to road-safety charity Brake, the change in the law in Scotland led to an immediate 19% fall in the detection rate for drink-driving.

Brake’s deputy chief executive Julie Townsend said: "Brake agrees with the Police Federation that the UK drink-drive limit – one of the highest in Europe – needs to be lowered.

'Stepping stone to zero-tolerance'

"We welcome the new lower limit in Scotland as a positive stepping stone towards zero-tolerance: the evidence shows that a tough approach helps prevent casualties."

Jeanette Miller, a motoring lawyer with Geoffrey Miller Solicitors, said: “From a logical perspective it makes sense to follow Scotland's lead and lower the drink drive limit.

"I understand that having such a low limit in Scotland has eradicated the ‘one for the road’ culture so that most responsible drivers do not touch a drop of alcohol when they know they will be driving."

But Miller added that the biggest problem regarding drink-driving across the UK was the lack of understanding among motorists over what was a "safe" amount to drink.

Men at pub

Is more education needed?

"There has to be a more concentrated effort to educate motorists about drink-driving limits before they potentially criminalise thousands of drivers by lowering the limit," she said.

"I also think it would be a good idea to copy other European countries such as Germany who have effective zero alcohol limits for professional drivers, such as bus drivers, and drivers under the age of 21."

The Police Federation highlighted the fact that the drink-drive rate among women has not fallen as quickly as among men over recent years.

In general, men are still far more likely to be convicted of drink-driving.

Would you help this drunk man into his car if he asked you?

Watch our short video as an actor, pretending to be drunk, asks passersby for help getting into his car.

Ads don’t target women

But research shows that while the male conviction rate has roughly halved over the past decade, the rate among women drivers has remained the same.

Martin said: "We’ve seen a steep decline in men drink-driving over the years, with targeted advertising campaigns, which is great, but women don’t seem to be getting the same message.

"It seems we have a worrying trend with females still flouting the drink-drive limit, sometimes scarily unaware, putting themselves and others in danger."

In 2012, 17% of people found guilty of drink-driving were women compared with just 9% in 1998.

Costly pint

A study by analyst Social Research Associates found that a third of women believed they would be under the limit after drinking a pint of premium 5% ABV lager.

Depending on other factors, however, this could easily be enough to push blood-alcohol levels over the legal limit.

Kris Beuret, director of Social Research Associates, said: "Some women in the study even admitted trying to drive ‘extra carefully’ but this is no solution.

“Getting caught is a real risk and there is almost always an alternative."

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