Should there be zero tolerance for drinking and driving?

Currently the UK has a higher limit for drink driving than the rest of Europe. Should this limit be lowered or perhaps even taken down to zero?A top UK Policewoman has asked a very poignant question about the laws on UK roads this week in terms of alcohol. At first it seems Deputy Chief Constable Suzette Davenport’s demands for no drinking while driving (that’s no drinking and driving at all) sounds despotic and tyrannical but when you look at the statistics for fatalities, and accidents caused by people driving under the influence of alcohol you suddenly start to wonder why laws are not a great deal stricter.


Alcohol related accidents statistics

Alcohol is linked to 17 per cent of road deaths in the UK (that is almost one in five) and police figures show that 250 people were killed and 1,230 seriously injured in crashes linked to drunk drivers last year. In some areas a third of those arrested for drink-driving are now aged between 17 and 24 - far more than in previous years. Last year more than 170,000 drivers were tested during a month-long campaign, with 6,662 arrests made, about 4 per cent of those stopped.

Previous policies

For some time the metropolitan police and the Government have been working together to make positive change to the present rules around drinking and driving. At the moment we are currently out of line with European laws. The original bill was to reduce the intake allowed from 80mg per 100 ml of blood to 50 mg (one pint of beer) which would put the UK more or less in line with other European countries. However, Government ministers were not convinced that the change would save many lives and were fearful it could devastate the fragile rural economy and also criminalise those in country areas who drink in moderation but have to drive to get to their local public house.

Support for zero Tolerance

Speaking as the Association of Chief Police Officers launched its Christmas drink-driving campaign, Deputy Chief Constable Suzette Davenport who is responsible for policing the roads in England and Wales, said that resetting the drink-drive limit to zero would drastically reduce the number killed and seriously injured on our roads each year.

As much as this kind of move is likely to be unpopular with the general public, experts from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents and the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety have welcomed the proposal. Kevin Clifford at the RSPA said “Lowering the limit would back up road safety messages about how and why driving under the influence of alcohol is dangerous and would help to encourage people not to drink any alcohol before driving.”

Nick Cassells 2012

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