UK & World News

  • 6 July 2014, 6:24

Scotland Moves To Slash Drink-Drive Limit

Drinking a pint or a single glass of wine could soon put you over the legal driving limit in Scotland, under proposals due to reach the Scottish Parliament in the next few weeks.

Currently more than 80mg of alcohol in the bloodstream per 100ml would make you a drunk driver - the Scottish Government wants to reduce that to 50mg.

That would bring Scotland into line with Germany, France and Spain - but create a situation where crossing the Scottish border after consuming one drink could lead to a drink-driving conviction.

Thirty people are killed on Scottish roads each year as a result of alcohol, and 150 seriously injured.

Across Scotland almost 7,500 people are convicted of drink-driving offences each year.

First Minister Alex Salmond recently branded Scotland a "nation of drunks".

The proposals have been welcomed by many families of those injured or killed by drunk drivers.

Stacey Muldoon, a 23-year-old mother from Lanarkshire, was killed in 2008 when the driver of the car taking her home from a night out crashed into a lamppost.

He was later found to be twice over the legal limit. Her sister, Leigh Payne, believes lowering the limit will in future prevent many other deaths.

"We're coming into line with most of Europe and some of America", Ms Payne told Sky News.

"We've done loads of research and definitely bringing it down to 50mg is the way to go.

"I think that people will now realise that it's not acceptable to have a drink . Physically ordering a drink and drinking it with your dinner you cannot do with 50mg.

"Stacey left a twin sister, Kelly. She left two wee girls. They are now 10 and eight. My mum and dad have lost something they can never get back."

The Scottish Government says lowering the limit is a priority. Yet it has been two years since it first consulted on the issue and, as a devolved matter, it does not require legislative action by Westminster.

There has been resistance from the alcohol and pub sector. 

"I think it will lead to loss of business," says Bridgit Simmons, chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association.

"Of course pubs serve many soft drinks, there's been a growth in coffee, people eat there, but inevitably people do go to the pub to have one drink...

"They've understood what they can do until now but confusion will mean they just won't go out, and that's of concern to us."

The Scottish Government said it hopes to introduce a bill affecting the change some time in August.

A spokesperson said: "We are working with Police Scotland and the UK Government to prepare for a lower limit, including obtaining the necessary type approvals for the devices used by the police to test drivers. 

"As a lower limit cannot be brought in until the necessary approvals are obtained through the UK Government, we have made clear to the UK Government that we view introducing a lower limit in Scotland as a key priority which we want to introduce as soon as possible."