Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Sigh of relief confirmed

Excellent news for pubs and pubgoers that the government have finally confirmed they have no current plans to reduce the drink-drive limit. Given that most of the great and the good seem to have expressed support for this, I’m slightly puzzled as to what the thought processes are behind it, as I was when it was more seriously proposed ten years ago. I strongly suspect that the senior police officers are in private much more sceptical than they are in public, and recognise that in practice it would do little or nothing to reduce casualties while forfeiting much public support.

The government would also have had to grasp the nettle of whether to impose mandatory bans at 50 mg. If they did, we would have a far stricter drink-drive régime than any of our major Continental neighbours, whereas if drivers were only subjected to points and a fine between 50 and 80 mg, as is usual in the Continent, the unholy alliance of anti-drink and anti-car pressure groups would have accused them of letting drink-drivers off the hook. Either way, it’s opening a can of worms.

The combination of the financial crisis and the slump in Labour’s electoral support probably led them to conclude it just wasn’t worth pursuing at the moment. But I’m sure the threat hasn’t entirely gone away…

The news report also parrots the oft-heard nonsense that “Britain is to become the only European country that allows motorists to have at least one alcoholic drink and still be legally fit to drive.” This in fact is quite untrue - a 50 mg limit would still allow most people, unless very lightly-built, to consume a pint of ordinary-strength beer, a medium glass of wine, or a double whisky, and still drive legally. And surely a half of mild counts as an alcoholic drink, and you might be able to get away with three of those.

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