Drink-drive limit should be cut by almost half, fire brigade says

This came from The Daily Telegraph in March and followed a statement from the fire brigade saying that reducing the drink-drive limit would save hundreds of lives a year.

The drink-drive limit should be cut by almost half to save hundreds of lives and millions of pounds of public money, fire brigades say.

Under the proposals, which mirror reforms in Scotland in December, people who used their cars after consuming anything more than a pint of beer or glass of wine might be breaking the law.

Experts suggested it was likely that people who drank four pints of beer, or the equivalent, would still be over the limit “the morning after”.

Jeremy Hilton, chairman of the Local Government Association Fire Services Management Committee, which represents fire and rescue services, said England had one of the highest limits in Europe.

He called for the limit to be reduced from 80mgs for every 100ml of blood to 50mgs. Such a move was made in Scotland in December, bringing it in line with France, Germany, Italy and most of Europe as well as Australia.

“We believe that the current limit [in England] is simply unacceptable,” Mr Hilton said.

A lower limit would save 170 lives a year, he estimated. According to the RAC, it would also provide the emergency services with an extra £300 million by reducing the number of call-outs to accidents and hospital admissions.

Peter Dartford, president of the Chief Fire Officers Association, said: “We want to see the limit brought down to make it clear that no amount of alcohol is ‘safe’ to drink before driving.

“Any firefighter will tell you that of all the difficult and shocking things they encounter as part of their job, serious road traffic collisions are very often the worst.”

There is no safe way to calculate how much alcohol you can drink to stay below the legal limit, according to the NHS website. It says that the conversion of units of alcohol into blood concentration levels “varies between different people”.

As a general rule in England, two pints of normal strength beer or lager will just breach the limit, as would two small glasses of wine. The amounts vary according to sex, age, weight and whether food has been eaten.

Dr Hazel Torrance, a forensic toxicologist from the University of Glasgow, told the BBC the proposed limits would equate to a single glass of beer or wine or beer, as long as people waited a few hours before driving.

Campaign website 80mg.org.uk suggests that two pints of 3.5 per cent to 4 per cent beer would create a blood concentration level of 60mgs per 100ml in a man of average build.

It said a lower limit would hit “two-pint men”, who were visiting pubs and drinking only so much as to stay within the driving limit.

“This is the group where a lower limit would have most effect, because these are people who broadly speaking want to obey the law,” the website claimed.

It also suggested that four pints of beer keep blood concentration levels high even after a night’s sleep.

“With a lower limit, people would end up [breaching the drink-drive limit] after what to many is a normal evening in the pub rather than a ‘heavy session'”, it said.

Pete Williams, of the RAC, said: “It is clear that that there is an overwhelming tide of opinion among law-abiding motorists that England and Wales should follow suit with Scotland and adopt the lower permitted alcohol limit – which is widespread across Europe.”

Simon Richardson MBE

And then Simon Richardson MBE spoke at the last meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Alcohol Harm.  Politicians and public health specialists met to discuss ‘Drink Driving and the Effectiveness of the Current Legal Limit,’ exploring how the government is tackling drink driving, and the initial experience of Scotland’s new lower drink drive limit which you can read below.  His harrowing story is just one of lives inexorably changed by drink driving:

Simon Richardson MBE, Paralympic cycling champion, calls for lower drink drive limit in Parliament

Please click here  to sign a petition and show your support for lowering the drink drive limit in England and Wales.

I’ve signed it and I hope you will too 🙂

4 thoughts on “Drink-drive limit should be cut by almost half, fire brigade says

  1. Goodness, that is a tragic story indeed. And eighteen months in prison for effectively wrecking someone’s life? Really? I would concur that what I think you’ve referred to on this blog as top down social engineering structures like drink drive limits can work where bottom up strategies fail – like the bleating injunction to please drink responsibly. It’ll be interesting to see how the statistics pan out in Scotland. But hey if alcohol minimum pricing not a vote winner then does lowering the drink drive limit stand any better chance? Maybe it does if it can be percieved as something ‘they’ do. Not us, oh no. Until we cross that line, too, that is… So so glad that I am never ever going to be at any risk of that ever again xx

    1. Scotland are indeed leading the way Prim but I think it is becoming increasingly difficult for the UK to continue as is. Pressure is being brought to bear and as MrHOF said – how can you not do this? How can you argue about putting the profit of the drinks industry ahead of human life – oh we already do ……. xx

  2. I don’t know the difference with how you measure your blood alcohol.
    Here in the states we have a .08 rule, which is about 2.5 small glasses of wine (5 oz) in one hour for 130 lb female.
    Too much.
    I think we should have .05.
    It would be hard at first, but people would have to have a sober ride planned.
    We have way too many problems, although it has improved as they slowly lowered the rate.

    1. Hey Wendy Do you think they will reduce the drink drive amount in the US further? xx

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