Some very sensible words here from Nick Bish of the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers on the implications of cutting the drink-drive limit:
“The UK already has a robust enforcement regime with severe penalties and has among the lowest drink-drive deaths in Europe.He is quite right to point out that cutting the limit is likely to have unintended consequences by moving more drinking out of pubs. The people who are in the habit of regularly driving to pubs and drinking a quantity of alcohol that they believe will put them in the 50-80mg range are overwhelmingly over 45 anyway. With the passage of time they will die off, and many will already have been deterred by the smoking ban, pub closures and the restaurantisation of many rural pubs. The younger generation tend to have much more of an all-or-nothing attitude to drinking and if they visit pubs by car will usually tend to have soft drinks even if they will have fifteen Blue WKDs on Friday night.
“Of course we want to make it better but major changes in the blood alcohol limits are not necessarily the way to do this; other countries have lower limits and yet a worse record.
“Social and peer pressure have convinced people that it is absolutely not acceptable to drink and drive. We should play to our strengths and reinforce the policing, the peer pressure and the public messaging.”
“Pubs are the best and safest places to drink. The report does recognise that pubs have successfully long promoted the “Don’t Drink & Drive’ message and implemented dozens of initiatives from Designated Driver to Get-you-home schemes.
“What worries me is that well-meaning regulations sometimes have unintended consequences and drive people away from drinking in a supervised environment where they are served by someone who is sober, towards the home or round at friends where there is no automatic duty of care regarding alcohol consumption.”
Indeed it could be argued that most of the supposed safety benefits of a lower limit have already been achieved anyway, and changing the law would simply have the effect of driving the problem underground. The time when you are most likely to be targeted as a drink-driving suspect is in the thirty seconds after driving off a pub car park, and if people are drinking in private houses and just blending into the general traffic they will be much harder to identify. And, unless the police are miraculously given more resources, every 50-80 offender they process will be another 80+ offender who is not apprehended.
Anyway, it’s reported in the Sun today (no web link) that:
Proposals to lower the drink-drive limit are likely to be thrown out by the coalition government, it emerged yesterday... A Westminster source told The Sun the new limit is “unlikely” to come into force.Fingers crossed, then. It’s easy to write off the Sun as not being a serious newspaper, but on issues like this they do have a direct line to the government.