There’s a rather strange line of reasoning here from Neil Robertson of the British Institute of Innkeeping, who argues that the pub trade must avoid being seen as an industry that relies on drink-drivers.
“We can not present ourselves as the suppliers of drink drivers,” warned Robertson.If by “people who drink and drive” he means drink-drive offenders, then those are people who are breaking the current law anyway, and realistically I would doubt whether any pubs are critically dependent on the trade of those who fall into that category.
“If we say hundreds of country pubs will shut, we are basically saying that we rely on and supply those people who drink and drive.
“We need to be more positive and stress that most of our customers are responsible and we are not worried about them drink driving.”
But, in reality large numbers of people do visit pubs by car and drink alcohol, whether or not with a meal, within the current legal limit – in most cases well within it. If those are, in his terms “people who drink and drive”, then large swathes of the pub trade are dependent on their business. This is an entirely lawful activity and if industry representatives are not prepared to say so they are conceding the argument to the opposition. Clearly, if the limit was cut, most of those people would either drink less or not bother going at all (or less often) which inevitably would have an adverse effect on the business of pubs. As with the smoking ban, though, it would be a slow and long-drawn-out erosion of trade, not a sudden one off hit.
In fact, the vast majority of people err on the side of caution and in practice limit themselves to an amount of alcohol that would leave them well below the current limit. If you have a go at the blood-alcohol calculator on RUPissed you might be surprised at how much you need to drink to take you over 80mg – but in reality very few deliberately aim to drink up to the limit, as is often alleged.
Oliver Robinson of Robinson’s brewery talks much more sense on the subject in pointing out that a limit reduction would decimate many pubs’ early-doors trade.