Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Strange logic

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 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.”
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.

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.


  1. Just weasel words, carefully phrased not to offend the anti-alcohol lobbyists, and a sign of the success of their intimidatory tactics.

  2. As I have wrote on many occasions.
    the pub trade, not content being
    bloated with publicans made of straw,they have the health freak's
    trained insects for leaders.
    Sooner the pub punters desert the
    toadie pubs ,the better.
    Pointless saying the zealots are
    the guilty ones ,then supporting
    their lackies.

    No longer a skivvy

  3. As you say, strange logic. He's obviously trying to toady up, but he's wasting his time. It's often said the family brewers are out of step, but once again it's one of them who goes to bat for the trade.

  4. Are there people that drink alcohol and get behind the wheel of a car? These people think that's safe? A 0mg legal limit sounds the safest policy.

  5. A touch of faux surprise there, Cookie. Anyone would think you'd never been in a pub.

  6. Were the limit to be changed to 50, it is very likely that a reading between 50 and 80 will result in a fine and points: rather than a ban. There is a danger that the stigma will be removed from drink-driving and the fine will be regarded as a random tax: just as speeding tickets for mild violations now are. Indeed, so common have they become, that they do not result in an automatic increase in insurance premium. Surely what we have now is preferable. We have the safest roads in the world. Fewer people are killed on them each year. Alcohol consumption is decreasing and being caught with a reading of more than 80 corresponds to having drunk at least 3 pints and so is regarded as unacceptable by most people. I can't work up the same level of righteousness about someone who drove home after drinking 1 and a half pints. Why mess with a system that is working very well? It doesn't help matters that, every time this is discussed, the media wheels on a bereaved mother or some crazy pigeon feeder woman from a fake road safety charity.

  7. "Were the limit to be changed to 50, it is very likely that a reading between 50 and 80 will result in a fine and points: rather than a ban."

    The North Review, of course, calls for 12-month mandatory bans at 50mg, which would give the UK the toughest penalty regime of any EU country with a 50mg limit.

    However, if what you say happened, then I suspect many people who were in the habit of driving after consuming an amount of alcohol that they believed would put them in the 50-80mg zone, would continue to do so unless and until they were caught.

  8. I agree. Most people would not feel guilty about driving with a reading of 50 and there would be little chance of being caught. There would never be a mandatory ban for 50 to 80. Voters would not accept it and it would be out of line with the rest of the EU.

  9. RUPissed is all in metric, what's the use of that to a true-born Englishman?

    I can guess at my height and weight in Napoleon's units, but my guesses are likely to be far enough off to make the whole exercise pointless.


  10. It's an Australian site, actually. And I'm no fan of the metric system either. But height and weight are quite easy to convert, and if you do it once you can remember the figures.

    And a pint is 568ml - although realistically I'd estimate the typical pub pint to be no more than 95% of that, or 540ml.


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