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England and Wales Drink Drive Limit Could Be Lowered

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England and Wales Drink Drive Limit Could Be Lowered

The drink drive limits for England and Wales are higher than those in many other European countries, and there has been a growing amount of concern among road safety experts that a review of those limits is well overdue. It seems, though, that that review may finally be about to take place.

Legal limits in the UK vary according to where you are, with the current drink drive limit in England and Wales at 80 milligrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood, and 35 micrograms of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath. In Scotland those limits are 50 milligrammes and 22 micrograms, respectively.

However, Andrew Jones, the Conservative MP for Harrogate and Knaresborough and Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Transport, recently said during parliamentary discussion that he was exploring the idea of bringing the England and Wales limits in line with those of Scotland and much of the rest of Europe.

Jones said that the "government's current position remains to focus resources on enforcing against the most serious offenders" and that they wished to "strike a balance between safety and personal freedom." But he went on to say that "I am intending to discuss with the Scottish minister the experience of the lower limit in Scotland and the timescales to get evidence of the road safety impact."

Has the drink drive limit worked in Scotland?

Whether or not any change in the alcohol limits actually takes place remains to be seen. The timescale to which Jones refers is currently very limited; the more stringent limits in Scotland have been in effect little more than a year (since the end of 2014). Also, while the Scottish Government has staunchly defended its drink driving laws, arguing that people have responded to the lower limits – as demonstrated by there being no rise in the number of drink-driving offences over the last year despite the lower threshold – others have been critical.

Many from the hospitality industry in Scotland claim to have had their businesses adversely affected as a result people's fear of being penalised for drink driving despite behaving sensibly. On the other hand, officials see the low drink drive limit as an important deterrent, warning that "alcohol at any level impairs driving."