UK drink-drive limit could be lowered

UK drink-drive limit could be lowered

The alcoholic drinks industry would be unlikely to oppose a cut to the legal drink-drive limit in the UK, as recommended by a Government-commissioned review.

Drivers' blood alcohol levels should be no more than 50mg per 100ml, compared to the current limit of 80mg, said the review today (16 June).

It drew on new research showing that more than 150 lives could be saved in the first year of a reduced drink-drive limit. More than 300 lives could be saved within six years, said the research, completed for review author Sir Peter North by the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE).

The review was commissioned by the previous UK Government, but North's strongly-worded recommendation will put pressure on the new Government to lower the limit. Drink-driving was involved in 430 road deaths in 2008.

Senior representatives of the UK drinks industry have told just-drinks that they would not stand in the Government's way if it chose to lower the drink-drive limit.  

It is thought that opposition to a lower limit would not be tenable. Many other EU member states, including France, Germany and Spain, also have a 50mg limit.

The British Beer & Pub Association today stopped short of opposing a lower limit, but said: "We do think the rationale for a lower limit should be more closely examined."

It welcomed the review's call for tough penalties and random breath testing. "Experience in the rest of Europe shows that lower limits are accompanied by lower penalties, resulting in a higher level of drink offences, injuries and deaths. We do not want that to happen here."

The Wine & Spirit Trade Association declined to comment on the review.

North moved to counter unrest among the country's troubled rural pub industry, which may see a lower limit as further pressure on business.

"While supportive of the Government's don't-drink-and-drive message, Sir Peter is keen to emphasise that a 50mg/100ml limit isn't zero - a driver could still have a drink without infringing the limit," said the review.

A lower drink-drive limit is backed by the Government's Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs.