The Scotland drink drive limit has recently dropped, bringing the country in line with most of Europe, by cutting the blood alcohol limit from 80mg to 50mg per 100ml of blood. Justice Secretary MacAskill has said that drinking and driving can have devastating effects on people’s lives and that now is the time to take action.
In practice, the new 50mg limit means an average man is limited to just under a pint of beer or one large glass of wine and women to half a pint of beer or a small glass of wine.
Staying under the limit
This can be tricky as the amount of alcohol you need to drink to be over the driving limit varies from person to person. Factors such as your weight; gender (men process alcohol faster than women); metabolism; what you are drinking; the amount you drink; stress levels; what and when you last ate; and age (younger people usually process alcohol more slowly) all influence how much alcohol you have in your system.
Bear in mind that even a small alcoholic drink can impair your driving ability to an extent. This means you run a greater risk of causing an accident and any erratic driving will be stopped by the police. Therefore, the safest thing to do is to avoid all alcohol if you are driving.
Scotland’s drink driving facts
- Police stop over 80,000 vehicles each month.
- 20,000 offences are charged every month.
- 1 in 10 road deaths involve drink driving.
- You will be breathalysed if you are stopped for using a mobile phone, faulty lights or not wearing a seatbelt. You will also be breathalysed if you are involved in an accident and suspected of drinking.
- If you are three times over the limit or more and refuse to take a breathalyser test, you could have your car taken from you for good and have a minimum 20 year criminal record.
- You could be fined up to £5,000.
- It takes about 10 hours to be alcohol free after a bottle of wine and 13 hours after four pints of strong lager or ale.
There’s no doubt that the new legal drink drive limit is being enforced in the interest of road safety. However, speaking on BBC Radio Scotland, George Goldie from the Institute of Advanced Motorists, said he did not believe the change in limit would make a difference to road safety and added: “We have very few statistics, if any, to show how many accidents are caused by people who are marginally over the limit. Most of the accidents are caused by people who are blatantly blitzed. I’m much more concerned about improving driving, as opposed to improving the one in ten. I am much, much more interested in improving the nine in ten.”
Northern Ireland is also considering following Scotland’s example with a reduction in the limit to 50mg. A Road Traffic (Amendment) Bill is currently being considered by the Northern Ireland Assembly and, if agreed, the lower limit could also become law in 2015. The UK Department of Transport has said that as yet there are no plans to alter the drink drive limit in England.
To help reinforce the reasons behind the new limit, Don’t Risk It provides interesting information plus a short video on the consequences of drink driving.