Saturday, 6 December 2014

Sober at the wheel in England, but over the limit north of border: Tightened drink-drive laws in Scotland 'could catch drivers unaware'

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Sober at the wheel in England, but over the limit north of border: Tightened drink-drive laws in Scotland 'could catch drivers unaware'

  • Limit cut from threshold of 80mg to per 100ml of blood to just 50mg
  • Concerns raised that drivers crossing border by accident could be hit
  • Penalty is up to 6 months in prison, £5,000 fine and obligatory ban
Cited at:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2839982/Sober-wheel-England-limit-north-border-Drink-drive-law-tightened-Scotland.html


Motorists face confusion after Scotland tonight voted to lower its drink-drive limit from UK to Continental levels. 

It means English drivers and holidaymakers inadvertently crossing the winding border from Northumberland and Cumbria into Scotland could be arrested for drink-driving in Scotland while still being safely within the limit for the rest of the UK. 

They could lose their licence and their liberty for the offence which currently carries 6 months imprisonment, a £5,000 fine and an obligatory ban.

The Scottish Parliament gave its unanimous backing to reducing the drink-drive limit from the current UK limit of 80mg to per 100ml of blood, to just 50mg per 100ml, the standard used in most of Europe

Under the Scottish drink-drive change, the limit will be cut from the existing limit of 80mg to per 100ml of blood to just 50mg – the limit used across much of Continental Europe.

Families visiting a country pub near Carlisle in Cumbria, or Berwick in Northumberland, or having a run through the Kielder forest could fall foul of the changes if they stray into Scottish territory.

The border runs at a steep incline from Gretna, just North of Carlisle in the South West to Berwick in the North East, and many rural roads do not tell drivers that they are crossing it. 

The reduced drink-drive limit was formally approved by Members of the devolved Scottish Parliament who debated lowering the limit before voting on an order which will allow the reduced limit to come into effect on December 5, in time for the festive season.

But motoring groups warned it could be ‘ a recipe for confusion.’

The Scottish Parliament gave its unanimous backing to reducing the drink-drive limit. A Scottish Government motion said this would ‘help to save lives and make Scotland's roads safer" as well as bringing Scotland into line with much of the rest of Europe.

A Labour amendment, calling for the media campaign to highlight the impact of alcohol on drivers "the morning after" was also agreed by all.

A Conservative amendment, stressing the penalties imposed for drink-driving should be ‘proportionate’, was passed by 70 votes to 47, with two abstentions. 

But RAC head of external affairs Pete Williams said: ‘Having two different drink-drive limits within the UK is a recipe for confusion, but there does seem to be an appetite among motorists for tighter rules on the amount of alcohol that can be consumed before driving. 

‘Now Scotland has led the way in reducing its limit in line with the majority of Europe the question has to be asked, will the rest of the UK follow suit? 

‘RAC research has found that more than three quarters of Scottish motorists are in favour of the drink-drive limit being reduced.


The Scottish government has already launched a campaign to raise awareness of the change, but motoring groups have raised concerns that it could lead to confusion (file image)

'In fact, many Scots feel the Scottish Government should have gone further with more than a quarter (26per cent) from Scotland saying they would like to see the limit lowered below the new limit of 50mg of alcohol in 100ml of blood. 

‘Awareness of the change to a lower legal alcohol limit for driving in Scotland is very high at 94% of Scots, and even south of the border 58per cent of drivers say they are aware of the planned reduction.’ 

The Scottish Government has already launched a campaign to raise awareness of the change.

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said: ‘With the approval of Parliament, the new drink-drive limit will come into force on December 5, making our roads safer and saving lives.

‘We are doing everything we can to make sure everyone is informed about the new lower level.’

The reduced limit is aimed at cutting drink-drive incidents on the roads, and will bring Scotland into line with most of Europe.

An average of 20 people die on Scotland's roads each year as a result of drink-driving-related collisions. Last year, a further 90 were seriously and 340 were slightly injured in such crashes.

Michael McDonnell, director of Road Safety Scotland, said: "It's almost 50 years since the current limit was introduced and that we still lose an average of 20 lives a year is a disgrace.

‘Evidence from across the world demonstrates that the best results in tackling drink-driving are achieved by lowering the limit, or increasing enforcement, or both. 

'We know, too, that a combination of high-profile enforcement, coupled with a heavyweight media campaign, is the most efficient use of resources, and we are working closely with the Police Scotland and other partners to ensure that people know about the change to the limit and have no excuse.

‘It's not about catching more drink-drivers, but about preventing people from doing it in the first place. Ultimately, most of us have too much to lose so it's just not worth the risk.’ 



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