Two-thirds of motorists who drive after drinking alcohol would not have drink at all if the drink-driving limit was reduced, according to a survey. The Populus survey findings have prompted alcohol and public health campaigners to urge minister to impose Scotland’s lower limit across the rest of the UK.
The legal blood-alcohol limit in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, 80mg per 100ml, is one of the highest in Europe. Only Malta allows people to have more alcohol in their body when driving.
Scotland last year reduced its limit to 50mg, a move credited with cutting drink-driving offences by 5%. Extending the same policy UK-wide would save lives and lead many drivers to be more responsible, it is claimed.
In the Populus survey, 568 of the 1,833 people who took part said they had driven after drinking alcohol. Of those who had, 66% said they would not drink at all if the limit was lowered. The Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH), which commissioned the survey, said that was because some would be unsure how much it was safe to consume and others would decide it was not worth drinking at all.
While consuming any alcohol at all increases the chance of having an accident while behind the wheel, research shows that drivers who are just under the current 80mg limit are twice as likely to die in crash than those just under the 50mg limit campaigners are backing.
The 5% fall in drink-driving offences in Scotland in the year since it introduced the lower limit shows that people have changed their behaviour and are drinking less before getting behind the wheel.