PCC backs calls for cut to drink-driving limit.

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July 10, 2024

Police and Crime Commissioner Joy Allen has addressed medical experts at a national conference calling on the Government to cut the drink-driving limit.

As the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners’ (APCC) lead on drink and drug driving, the PCC was a keynote speaker at the British Medical Association’s (BMA) Alcohol, drugs and driving consensus statement launch event in London.

The consensus calls for the drink-driving limit in England, Wales and Northern Ireland to be cut from 80mg per 100 millilitres of blood (0.08%), or 35 micrograms per 100 millilitres of breath, to lower levels seen in other countries.  

It sets out detailed evidence showing that lowering the legal blood alcohol content (BAC) limit for driving saves lives.

Commissioner Allen said the current threshold in England, Wales and Northern Ireland was one of the highest in the world.

Quoting new research highlighted by the BMA, she said drivers drinking up to this limit are six times more likely to be killed in a crash.

She said: “Let’s be clear - there is no safe limit. Drinking alcohol impairs driving function at miniscule levels – the evidence is undisputable. It’s time to take the data seriously and use the experiences of other nations who have successfully driven down collision rates by lowering the limit.

“Reducing deaths and injuries on our roads by drink or drug drivers is not only a professional mission but a personal one. Until we make it perfectly clear in law that alcohol and driving don’t mix, then more needless lives will be lost on our roads. I fully support the BMA’s consensus statement and will continue to lobby for a zero-tolerance approach that will ensure England and Wales can finally address the rate of drink-drive fatalities that have shown no improvement in more than 30 years.”

The BMA’s consensus highlights laboratory studies that show impairment in critical driving functions begins at low levels, with most subjects significantly impaired at just 0.05% BAC.

Studies from the UK have shown that reducing the BAC limit from 0.08% to 0.05% is effective in preventing collisions while 2010 National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) estimates suggest more than 150 lives a year could be saved by lowering the BAC limit to this level.

The BMA says a reduction in the BAC limit must be accompanied by other measures to successfully reduce drink-driving. This includes strong enforcement and public awareness campaigns which can successfully contribute to changes in driver behaviour.

Furthermore, the BMA calls for sustained investment in alcohol and drug treatment services and says this is a key component of addressing drink and drug driving harm and the wider harm of alcohol and drugs in society.

Commissioner Allen, who is also the APCC’s Joint Lead on Addiction and Substance Misuse, added: “I have been fighting hard to ensure the criminal justice system offers the professional support to help individuals address their dependencies and stop offending. The earlier we identify the signs of problem-drinking, the more we can do to prevent further tragedies and save lives.”

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