back to article UK mulls drink-drive limit cut

The government is considering cutting the UK's drink-drive limit under "mounting pressure...from road safety groups and also the British Medical Association", the Telegraph reports. Several police forces earlier this year expressed concern that drivers, especially younger ones, simply weren't taking on board the "don't drink …


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  1. hugo tyson

    Silly silly people

    This is daft in many ways: the problem is that yoofs and others are drinking too much and driving and thus causing accidents. The proposed change makes many other people (who would normally drive within the limit and not crash) into drink drivers - and therefore criminals. Those who were drink-driving anyway are not remotely affected by this change and will drink and crash anyway.

    The only result is that more breathalyser tests will come up positive, which makes it *look* like the police are being more successful in fighting drunk-driving, but actually all it'll do is persecute safe drivers. Same as bloody speed cameras.

  2. Matt Taylor

    Common Sense?

    I don't understand why it is such a difficult concept to grasp. I usually find that if I have a pint, I want another. Therefore I follow a simple rule: If I have to drive anywhere it's soft drinks and only soft drinks from the outset. If I want a drink (or ten), the car keys stay at home.

    I personally support a zero unit limit. No grey area, no excuse for ignorance of what constitutes a safe limit. Simple as.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is this the solution?

    This doesn't sound like it'll do anything to solve the problem, only make it easier to catch people.

    Is is because there aren't enough people getting caught in random stops, or too many people are in accidents, with alcohol a contributing factor, but under the legal limit?

    The best solution would be something along the lines of the German system (80mg absolute limit, 50mg if in an accident), but I suspect this wouldn't be politically acceptable.

    Note that drink driving is BAD, but as with so many things there's the risk of the enforcement going too far, and catching the mostly blameless instead of those who couldn't care less, and who will carry on regardless, probably without being caught.

    Also, what is it with the BMA at the moment? Barely a day goes by without some pronouncement about the evils of alcohol (none during pregnancy, drinking age should be 21, etc. etc.) - have they been taken over by the temperance movement? Can't be long before they start demanding Prohibition!

  4. Jon G

    Pointless ?

    Whats the point of cutting the drink-drive limit when the Government have got rid of all the traffic cops and replaced them with speed cameras ? Correct me if I'm wrong but speed cameras can't detect drink drivers....

  5. andy gibson

    The only safe limit is zero

    Is it really that difficult to have the responsibility to not have an alcoholic drink if you're driving?

  6. Chris Wicks

    Better Solution:

    Reduce the blood alcohol limit to 0 - if you've had any booze at all, don't drive. Easier to understand, easier to police, safer roads. Would be keen to hear people's views on why this wouldn't work.

  7. Alexander Hanff

    I am against drink driving but....

    I find the stats to be somewhat flawed. Just over 150 more youths involved in drink driving offenses over the past 10 years could easily be accounted for by the fact that there are more cars on the road now and there are more 17-19 year olds in the community due to the baby boom of the 80s and 90s. Cars have become cheaper to buy (second hand cars certainly) so it stands to reason more 17-19 year olds will have them, which could be the only reason for the increase in stats.

    I personally haven't touched a drop of alcohol in over 5 years and certainly agree that drink driving is a problem, but if they are going to make significant changes to the legislation, they should at least do it honestly without resorting to representing statistics in a dubious manner.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why not go one further...

    And not drink at all when you know you're going to drive, I've never had the urge to drink when I know I'm driving, and if I'm taking people to the pub then I'm doing them a favour so they buy me a few (non-alcoholic) drinks while we're out.

    I have no sympathy for those who drink any amount and then drive, it's simply not worth the damage that can be caused.

  9. Richard Hall

    Why not.....

    just ban it all together ?

    I like a drink like most, but if I'm out and driving I don't touch a drop and I'm careful if I have a drink and I have to drive the next day.

    Having said that if people don't take much notice of the limits now a total ban might not have much effect. maybe stronger sentances is the way......

  10. Mike Banahan


    Yet more ridiculous posturing from the government then.

    Most weeks my local rag contains a story about some inbred idiot from around these parts who has drowned himself and some friends in one of the roadside drains (they are big and deep in East Anglia, for 'drain' read 'river') after drinking twelve or so pints of lager.

    That would typically put him at 4-6 times over the existing limit of 80mg/100ml

    Yep, reducing the limit to 50 mg/100ml will REALLY make him think.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    You can misrepresent any fact to prove an opinion, but what does

    "there were "1,050 17-19 year olds involved in drink drive accidents in 2005, compared to 810 a decade ago"

    actually mean?

    Of those 1050, how many of them were over the proposed 50mg limit but NOT over the current 80mg limit? Conveniently, they didn't say.

    Equally, of the accidents in other age ranges (20-30. 30-60, 60+) how many of those would have been between the 50 and 80 limits? Conveniently, they ignored those aged 20+ altogether.

    Without the full statistics, nobody is qualified to say whether a lower limit is justified. And even if it is, maybe a lower limit is needed only for those aged 30 and below.

    Instead of producing proposals, start by collecting the FACTS. Without them, all proposals are meaningless.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    UK GOV: we need to do more to punish the public..

    can someone tell me how lowering the drink drive limited is meant to help reduce the number of convictions.

    There goes my single lunchtime/after work pint on Fridays. :(

    With your identity (biodata, etc) being placed and kept on a database by the police even if later proved that you have done nothing wrong, it makes you wonder what the motive is with these new laws. They seem to be aimed at the general law abiding public, to push them over the line, so to speak.

    Why don't we dispense with the pretence and call the police the public information gathering service.

    Ok, maybe I am a bit harsh on the police *force* (as oppose to service) itself but you don't see them questioning the need for these new laws. The days when they did not offer political comment have long gone, so where is it?

  13. Tek

    Another excuse for being late for work then

    Sorry boss, had 4 pints last night and have to wait for another hour before I can drive.

  14. Ben Norcutt

    Should be Zero

    I think the limit should be zero then nobody has any reason to drink and drive.

  15. Stuart Van Onselen

    Seen this before...

    Where is the logic in this? "More people are drinking and driving, therefore we're going to lower the limit."

    Shouldn't you be doing more to catch people? Revoke their licences? Lock 'em up like Paris Hilton (I mean, for months, not 3 days.)

    What does lowering the limit do? Is there any evidence that a lot of accidents are caused by people with alcohol levels between the new and old limits? If all the accidents are being caused by people that were already over the old limit, this reduction achieves nothing at all.

    Or does it? It looks like a purely political move, so that politicos can be seen "doing something about the problem", even if the problem remains just as bad afterwards.

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  17. Steve Evans

    Ah, political logic

    Fantastic isn't it... People are ignoring the current limit and still driving, so lower the limit and what is that gonna do?

    It's going to catch a load of people out who suddenly find their 2 drinks they could have safely and remain below the limit, now put them just over the new lower limit.

    If you look at France, where they have had a lower limit than us for many years, it just get's ignored. Pretty much like the no smoking signs.

    The only people that are going to benefit from this are the companies who get to recalibrate all the breath test machines.

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  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Have a read of this :

    Essentially, you may as well ban alcohol completely. You cannot guarantee that your blood will be free of alcohol at any time, even without "drinking". Many medications contain alcohol so the "where do you draw the line" discussion is tainted.

    Mind you, they are banning smoking, so alcohol is the next bogey on the horizon. Pretty soon, it'll be Big Brother, the Ten O'Clock News, then bed, after all - we all have to be up early in the morning to be wage slaves. Don't want to disappoint our glorious leaders !

  20. tim morrison

    Zero limit not feasible

    Unfortunately as much as I would love to see a zero limit (me being ex-plod & teetotal) it's unworkable.

    Mouthwashes, Grandma's trifle, poncy cooking... it's all got alcohol in it.. suddenly, you're a criminal and you didn't know it.

    I think the limit should be LOW, ie not enought to even have a half of lager, but also introduce LIFETIME DRIVING BANS for drink driving. Publish the scrotes on the interweb and offer a £100 reward (payable by the scrote) for each one you catch behind the wheel and the Police manage to nab.

    Bingo, an instant 10 million pairs of eyes watching these deviants, multiple repeat offenders are taken out back and thrown in a municipal cess pit...

    I really should stand for PM shouldn't I?

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This is stupid!

    I will start by saying that I am completely against drink driving, and I am glad they cut it from 2 to 1 pint a few years back, because I stuck to the limit then but shouldn't have had as much (I could feel the effect, but I was a dumb kid). I generaly dont drink if I am driving, but occasionaly have a pint of weak bitter then drive.

    However... The people involved in accidents are generaly the nob-heads who drink 4+ pints then drive (my father does this, and tries to argue that he hasn't had an accident yet, so it must be safe). What they need are more traffic cops out there to catch these idiots, and get them off the road. This will cut the accidents. Not reducing the limit. It will also reduce the number of people speeding, and generaly reduce other crimes due to more cops being out there.

    Sometimes I think this country is run by a set of brain dead monkeys. Then I think about it deeper... And realise I am right.

  22. samuel duckfield

    deterrence is the answer

    Instead of moving the goalposts, why not have greater enforcement (ie more Traffic Cops, less tax collection cameras), and much more stringent penalties - especially for serial offenders (loss of licence for life, car crushed, huge fines, automatic imprisonment).

  23. James

    Not far enough

    Dropping the limit to zero is the best option. If you're driving, don't drink. It's very simple. The current system is vague and wooly. Alcohol affects different people to different extents, two drinks may render one person unfit to drive but not another. The only guaranteed way to not be unfit by way of alcohol is to not drink. A great many people are unfit to drive anyway let alone when they've had their thought processes and reflexes dulled by booze.

    Before I'm accused of being part of the temperance brigade, I'm not. I like a drink but I never touch any if I'm driving.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This would just encourage the irresponsible to drink more!

    After all if you going to be illegal to drive after one drink why not have five or six?

  25. Colin Guthrie

    How long before some becomes none?

    I disagree with everyone saying it should be zero as this is not a magical cure-all. If I've been drinking the night before, when is it safe for me to drive again? If I've had a couple pints at lunch can I drive home in the evening?

    These problems are still present with a zero limit solution. Or do you introduce a 24 hour time period? If so what if you manage to cram in so many units on your weekend mashup that you will still be over the limit even 24 hours after the last drink touched your lips?

    The only way to solve the drink driving problem is stiffer penalties and better policing. Lowering the limit should only be done if the value of 80mg is found to be a level at which people driving Is affected and it should not be lowered just to "drive" (sorry) the message home to people. The limit has to be based on science.

    Remember that many other products (medicines etc.) may affect your ability to drive more than a lunchtime pint.

    A total ban is just pointless and wont change a single thing except turn more, otherwise law abiding, people into criminals.

  26. Shaven Lunatic

    0 Limit just isn't viable

    Let me start by saying that i am STRONGLY against drink driving.. I did get banned for being slightly over the limit about 10 years ago (not my proudest moment but i was 18 and stupid).. and haven't touched a drop when I know I'm driving since...

    My only concern with people shouting for a 0 limit is if there is the slightest trace of alcohol in your system it will be classed as drink driving.. 0 is too harsh.. what about having the smallest of drinks late at night and 1mg is left in your blood.. or cough medicine? or mouthwash (if swallowing it is you bag)? I don't see how it could work fairly.

    Honestly, lowering the limit won't do ANYTHING to affect the number of accidents (which should be the main focus).. simply prosecuting more people does not reduce the number of accidents

    it NEEDS to have a more suitable penalty system.. a £100 fine (or whatever it is now) and a ban isn't going to cut it.. but what will likely happen is the fine gets upped as normally happens.. money isn't a deterrant, it's just a cash cow.

  27. A. Lewis


    As several others have said, the only sensible approach (and the one I take) is a limit of zero.

    I mean come on people, it's not hard!

    If you are driving, don't drink. If you've had even one drink, don't drive.

  28. Nigel

    @ By Matt Taylor (zero Drink Drive Limit)

    I assume then that you never go out on a Thurs night and have a few beers, then wish to drive to work the following morning??

    Reducing the drink drive limit to 50mg would make most people leaving home at 8Am after a few beers on Thurs eve into drink-drivers. Reducing it to 0mg would turn them all into criminals and make it such that a drink after work on thurs means calling in a sickie, risking it, or not going into work until mid-day.

    In short, its fine like it is, 50mg would do the licenced trade a fair amount of damage, 0mg would put some of them out of business, and increase the number of hours that employers loose due to sickies etc.

    Personally, if I am driving back from a day out (in the hills, mountain biking, whatever) and stopping at a pub means a coke for me (rather than a single pint) then I wont bother stopping - cost to the pub: about £20 taking into account the 3 passengers I have who would have a couple of pints.


  29. Angus Chishilm

    Zero limit - is it really such a good idea?

    For all those "if I'm out drinking then I leave the keys at home" people, please tell me, precisely how do you know the next day when you are no longer over the limit? You must all have those really accurate home Breathalyzer kits, or you just stay home nursing your hangover.

    I also take it you never eat anything that has alcohol as ingredients, however infinitesimal the amount that ends up in the blood may be.

    I'm not saying I know the solution to this problem either, but please, try to use some common sense, or at the very least pragmatism on a subject like this.

  30. Roger Lee

    Why stop there?

    Hospitals report that over 90% of pedestrians involved in RTAs after 2100hrs have are significantly over the 80mg drink/drive limit (read "stoatious") so it's not unreasonable to assume that in many cases their level of intoxication was at least partially to blame for their predicament.

    Why not ban alcohol completely? Think of the benefits. It would save the NHS oodles of money, Local Government (no vomit, pizzas, blood, urine or excrement sullying the streets), the Police (no fighting to sort out, no drinking and driving), smokers (no need to stand in the rain), non smokers (no need to sit inside like a lonely bastard whilst the smokers have all the fun outside), off licenses (no need to cower behind wire mesh screens), no danger of getting stuck in a lift with either CAMRA or Sunday Times Wine Club members - in fact the list is endless.

    Prohibition has always been extraordinarily successful both in the USA and here - Just ask any gangster - so this would represent a real and sustainable benefit to that unfairly maligned minority community.

    When we've rid the country of the blight of alcohol, we can settle down to some real New Labour entertainment. Watching Gordon Brown tell his "joke" over and over again on all TV channels whilst we get to drink unsweetened black tea (remember the high costs associated with Dentistry, and the acknowledged lethality of animal fats) at home gets my vote.

    Rantin' Rodge.

  31. Chris Green


    What about those that rightly don't drive on the evening of a drink, but then drive the next day?

    They are bound to have some residue %, but how would they know? Do they take a day off work, just in case?

    Also, it's pretty easy to take some numbers and suggest the cause, but you would be putting an awful lot of trust in the interpreter there, so how many of you trust politico's on that front?

    (I know, analysts do the numbers, but there's always an analyst that'll tell a politico what he/she wants to hear).

    Of those 17-19 yr olds...

    ...How many were hit from behind?

    ...How many were hit by older drivers that had higher alcohol blood levels?

    ...How many were in a car they'd pinched and therefore of a type that any law would make no difference to?

    ...How many don't vote and can therefore be targeted by politico's that want to imagine the greater public will love them for it?

    ...How many could, without any doubt, be attributed to the 17-19 driver?

  32. Chris Cheale



    Reduce the blood alcohol limit to 0 - if you've had any booze at all, don't drive. Easier to understand, easier to police, safer roads. Would be keen to hear people's views on why this wouldn't work.


    Have a few pints the night before and you'll still be well over the limit when you get up the next day. It takes (very roughly depending on several factors) about an hour to get a pint of beer out of your system (there's very few British beers with as low an alcohol percentage as 3%)... of course if you've not eaten and go on a proper bender it'll all accumulate and take a bit longer to clear.

    The problem with alcohol is that it's the "easy target" in the world of car crashes - it has a negative impact on your judgement, co-ordination and reaction speed... but it's not the only thing; many medications have similar, though (because of the relative quantities involved) lesser effects - what would have a greater effect, a half-pint of beer (which would be illegal at 0% - just about legal at 50mg) or a dose of antihistamine for hay-fever prevention?

    Come to think of it - aging has many similar effects - ban anyone over the age of 70 from driving perhaps?

  33. Law

    Binge drinking

    I am betting alot of these teenagers caught out are people who had a drinking binge the day before, and didn't realise they would be over the limit 24 hours later!!

    Personally - I don't drive if I even have a sip, and I don't sip if I know I need to drive. On the one occasion the past year I had a big bender out in Manchester, and I didn't drive at all the next day "just incase"....

    I think there should be the "legal limit" which is when you get told you're over the limit and you get some points (this should be pretty low limit, near zero but a reasonable buffer)... then there should be a "banned limit" where you are so far over the legal limit it was obvious you did it on purpose (like two-three pints) - that one should lead to a long ban and a criminal record!

    It's not just your life you are risking - and while we're at it - chop the nad's off the little freaks who smoke weed and drive... just as bad!!

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    One proposal you missed...

    Mr Ladyman is also behind the proposal to enforce an 80mg alcohol limit for people "involved in the navigation of a vessel greater than 7 metres in length and/or capable of a maximum speed of more than 7 knots."

    Jet Skis are not included in this as they are "not ships"

    So which is more dangerous : a 18 year old with >80mg of blood and driving like a lunatic or an 18 year old steering a 24 ton, 72 foot narrowboat at about 3mph?

    There is no explanation on how Mr Ladyman proposes to police this latest bit of Government policy

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Stats, Spin & Common sense

    I am always amazed at how, when someone starts quoting stats from some unknown source, people’s brains just switch off.

    Don’t get me wrong, I do not drink at all when I am going to drive...NONE (it’s my personal preference to live as long as I am able!), however, as Tim Spence points out, all stats can be made to say absolutely whatever you want them to dependant upon the verbiage laid around them.

    "1,050 17-19 year olds involved in drink drive accidents in 2005, compared to 810 a decade ago"… in that time, the population has grown, which erodes the difference between 810 and 1050. Also, there has been a large increase in the numbers of cars on the roads, this too eroding the difference proportionately. Also, as others have noted, the stats in the article conspicuously omit to mention whether the “17-19 year olds INVOLVED in drink drive accidents” were driving. For all we know, half of the difference in the two figures, 10 years apart, could be including pissed pedestrians, previously omitted, that walked out in front of a stone cold driver.

    Finally of course there is the proportionate increase in incident detection that the home office are so keen to harp on about. Take all these things into account, peel back the layers of stats and spin, and I think we’d see that proportionately,…

    nothing’s realy changed.

    Youth will drink,...that's the way it is. If you take away alcohol, they'll only use somthing else (which is just as bad and harder to detect at the road side). I think a little common sence and less legislation is called for.

    Shop keepers and landlords need to show a little more considreation for their customers and a little less for their profit(greed) margin,.. Parents should be being more responsable for their children,.. and with a little more public education and peer presure, who knows what could be acheived.

    Our local village copper used to take pissed pedestians in his car a few miles out into the sticks and make them walk home. Our local publicans would ask groups entering the pub who the drivers were and hold their keys, so that they would know that if they saw them drinking at all during the evening they'd keep them till the morning. Because of these responsable, moral and adult methods, we had an almost zero drinking incident level, very few fights, no broken bottles laid about on the street, and zero drink related driving offences.

    I know this isn't much use in a blacked out squlid little basment club somwhere in the arse end of manchester, but it does show that things can be done on a practical level that affect the problem.

    ...Besides, reducing the blood/alchohol level by a tiny little bit isn't going to stop the offender who is 4 times over the limit. He'll just be over the limit by a tiny bit more!

    So who do they think they're kidding!?

  36. Matt

    better idea

    How about we ban drinking! All together, just outlaw it, then you couldn't drink drive *nods* and you wouldn't get liver damage either - it's a flawless plan!

    While we're at it we could reduce the number of traffic accidents by 100% if we banned driving! It's for our own good.

    Also I think that tripping over is a big risk to people, so walking should be banned. Talking can upset people so that should also be banned.

    Looking at porn of course means you want to have sex! And if you want to have sex you may want to either A: rape people or B: have sex with children. So we should ban that too. It's for our own good.

    Infact new government policy is that all humans should be kept in growth tanks and fed introveniously whilst watching reruns of lazy town. This will reduce crime and accidents to zero and everyone will be safe.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Mr Tim Morrison

    Yes, you should. And Mr Law, great idea.

    And all those who say Zero, get off your moral high horse and learn to read! Most of us have some (trace) alcohol in our blood most of the time. Unless you are an absolute tea totaller who refuses anything with any trace of alcohol (incl medicines, mount-wash etc) then you are turning yourselves into criminals.

    Drink drivers are idiots, but so are moral preachers without the sense to back up their preachings.

  38. Rupert Stubbs

    It's for your own good...

    This goverment, more than any before it, really believes in control through (rushed, ill-thought out, plain incompetent) legistlation. They only care what the headlines will be, rather than thinking through the consequences.

    If the aim is to reduce alcohol-related car accidents, will this change (80-50) make a difference? As many have cogently argued above, there is doubt about this. We aren't given enough useful statistics to work it out (how many of the 'alcohol-related car accidents' involved pissed yoofs falling into the road in front of a car?), but then the State education policy appears to be to eliminate the teaching of statistics so that no-one can question the State's made-up figures...

  39. Karim Bourouba

    Reduce it to 0

    On Chris Cheales comment about not many alcoholic drinks are less than 3% in the UK - I beg to differ. Whilst browsing my local Asda for BBQ food, I found that they offer BBQ beer that is actually quite low in alcohol. Also, they have a section dedicated to low alcohol drinks. They are not own brands either, there is a lot of well known brands like Grolsch (I like it) available.

    Not so much tart juice or wine though.

    On the comment of banning people over 70 for driving, I agree on that one. in 2001 some old dear knocked me off my cycle as I was going to work. Before you shout and whine about other road users - the cycle path was 5 meters away from the road and and a verge to seperate it....

  40. Name

    Yes it is that difficult

    "Is it really that difficult to have the responsibility to not have an alcoholic drink if you're driving?"

    Yes, the yoofs of today have been raised in a land where the government seeks to assume responsibility for everything. It is hardly surprising they have no sense of personal responsibility and act accordingly.

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bullocks to Safe Highways

    Bullocks to all public safety *period*. The mortality rates in western cultures are incredably low. The laws of diminishing returns apply. It takes very little to bring the mortality rate from 2% to 1%, but getting it from 1% to .5% involves sacrificing all kinds of freedoms and spending massive amounts of money. Yet no one ever seems to ask "is it worth it?". Someone, somewhere needs to put a price on life. Life is about balance, and western cultures are incredably unbalanced in this regard. We are arrogant!

    We've got insane DUI (driving under the influence) laws in America. I've known many good people who have lost their license or went to jail because they went to the bar, had a responsible number of beers, and drove home. These people have lost jobs, wages, even careers because of insanely strict laws that do nothing to help public safety.

    In Colorado (where I live), the limit is .05% (=50mg). That's not even one beer for many people! In fact the whole (previous) .08 movement here was based on "scientific research" stating that at .08 drunk drivers get in as many accidents as those at .00%!

    And a drinking age of 21 does nothing. Youngsters still buy booze, and still drive drunk. There is no sense in spoiling responsinble peoples' fun, only to make the kind of ninnies feel better that aren't on the highways at closing time anyway.

  42. Liam Johnson

    Keep it simple

    >>Bingo, an instant 10 million pairs of eyes watching these deviants

    Just declare everyone a criminal, put a big wall around the country and have done with it.

  43. This post has been deleted by its author

  44. Gareth

    US drink driving laws+ lack of police

    Agreed with Brent Gardner that the US drinking laws are a complete waste of time.

    I recently moved from the UK to the US and people over here think nothing of having a number of drinks before driving home, the reasoning being that the drink driving limit is so low that if they can't drink one pint and drive home legally they might as well have a couple.

    From the ages of 17-21 people drink illegally, and at the age of 21 many go crazy and go through the binge drinking stage that most British kids get out of their system around the age of 14-15.

    Perhaps the rise in drink driving is down to the fact there's no police on the roads any more as they rely on the cameras to do all the work for them - and a camera can't pick up a drunk driver.

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: US drink driving laws+ lack of police

    Gareth, British kids never get the binge drinking stage out of their system... Ever seen the high streets or club streets in your average city? Twenty-somethings completely bladdered... the same kind of bladdered that they were at 14 when they started boozing.

    But yes, drink laws are useless regardless of age or country. It is up to the parents to do something... and 90% can't be arsed to do anything.

  46. adnim

    The message not getting through

    Is the important point here. How is reducing the drink limit going to get the message through?

    No one is hearing me, So instead of speaking in a louder voice or trying new methods of getting my message across. I will just change what I am saying instead. We are governed by those completely unfit for the task.

    If I get really, really drunk, I find a good strong spliff and a snort of coke sobers me up enough to drive perfectly well. I just don't know what all the fuss is about.

    For those unable to tell.... I am joking, I do not drink and drive nor condone such behaviour.

  47. Andy

    Re: Missed proposal

    "So which is more dangerous : a 18 year old with >80mg of blood and driving like a lunatic or an 18 year old steering a 24 ton, 72 foot narrowboat at about 3mph?"

    Put it this way - I can stop my 58 foot narrow boat with my hands but I wouldn't want to try and stop an 18 year old doing 80mph in a car...

  48. Jim Hague

    Random tests, not the limit

    50mg and random tests is the regime in New South Wales, and has been for years. Perhaps we could check comparative statistics?

    It isn't the limit that's the problem, it's the chances of getting caught. Which are close to zero at present unless you wallop something. ISTR from somewhere that the average British driver will get breathalysed about once every 20 years. The figure in NSW is apparently more like once every 18 months I've been breathalysed twice, once in NSW and once in South Africa, both random tests. I have no problem with them happening here.

  49. The Mighty Spang

    taxi prices, no buses

    Last year they increased the late night cab fares round here, now costs a fiver just to step into a cab... with bugger all public transport what do you expect young people to do?

    A zero level is all well and good, but do you know if you would be at zero after a night on the town?

  50. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Drink driving?

    You guys drive cocktails around? Britain must be a fun place also I noticed that some of your drivers undertake on the shoulder at 140 mph how do they dig the hole so fast are they shallow graves and why on the motorway no space left for stiffs elsewhere?

  51. Rogers

    "Public Information Gathering Service"

    I can't believe no one else snorted into their morning coffee with that rather brilliant acronym!

    But seriously, raise the drinking age to 21, ban alcopops (I never drank as a kid coz it tasted 'orrible). A zero limit is stupid it will catch people who've eaten to much trifle at granny's. 50 is probably about right.

    Oh yeah,. and crush the car of convicted drivers!

    We crush cars if we commit the heinous sin of not paying enough road tax (like that ever killed anybody) but we let drunk drivers hold on to their wheels and drive while disqualified. Tax is more important than lives, obviously.

  52. Keith Langmead

    Little understood effects

    One stat I think would be interesting to see is the number of accidents at different times of day. I'd put money on a lot of them being the day after, especially those involving a lot of drink, as opposed to those who just creap over the limit at the pub after work.

    One of the biggest issues IMHO is education, not that x number of drinks will put you over the limit, but how long that will last. To correct Chris Cheale who said it takes an hour per pint to clear your system, I think you'll find it's actually more like 2 hours per unit. Give it a try... go out for 10 pints tonight, and tell me if you feel fine by the following afternoon. I know so many people who will get trashed and then drive the next day because "it's ok, it's been 12 hours". In reality if you go out tonight (Saturday) and have more then 3 pints you'll probably be over the limit tomorrow morning. If you go on a bender and have more than 10 pints, you'll not only still be drunk on Sunday, but probably still over the limit on Monday morning as well. How many people really consider this when going out?

    Also, if you eat while you drink the food actually absorbs the alchohol, keeping it in your system in a kind of time release, so while you won't feel as drunk, it will take longer to leave your system.

    With non-alcholic drinks, the pubs can hardly say they're against drink driving when the cost of a soft drink like coke is higher than the cost of a beer. Anyone who knows how cheap the post-mix used to make coke/pepsi will understand how outrageous that it.

    Finally, years ago when I lived outside the city I always used to drive to and from the pubs and clubs and not drink. So I'd regularly be driving back home between 23:00 and 02:00 (at times every day of the week), yet in several years of doing this I wasn't once pulled over for a random breath test! Makes me wonder how they intend to catch anyone who isn't swerving or driving really slowly due to paranoia.

  53. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    New South Wales

    50mg and random tests is the regime in New South Wales, and has been for years. Perhaps we could check comparative statistics?

    There's nothing quite so convincing as random roadside tests to keep you sensible. I've been tested about 4 times so far this year (I drive a lot, despite not being a professional driver, which tends to increase my chances), and have come through with no problems (both after a drink, and without having drunk).

    Down here, pretty-much everything is measured by "standard drinks" - so you know pretty much how much you can drink (an average guy, for instance, is quite safe if they go 2 drinks in hour one, then no more than 1 drink per hour thereafter - unless their metabolism is totally screwed). Most take-away booze also has a measurement of standard drinks - so that people without brains realise that drinking a whole bottle of vodka is going to leave them boozed up for 24hrs or so......

    Not a perfect formula, since everyone is different, but many licensed premises have a tester, and you can pretty quickly get a feel for how your body processes the booze.

    What they have done, to make things tighter while people learn responsibility, is to set a zero alcohol limit for drivers who are learning, or in their first 3 (provisional) years of holding a licence......... so they need to be particularly careful about what is in their system.

    Anyway....... if you can persuade people to take one drink less, it's probably going to safe a life or two - so not a bad thing in balance :)


  54. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: US limits

    Any country patterning their drink-drive limits after the United States is well down the slippery slope to fascism.

    Frankly, I don't even know WHAT the limit is in this state anymore, nor do I give a crap, since the last time I knew it was when it was .08, which was a limit based upon research that yielded the result of "A BAC of .08 yields the same number of crashes on average as .00" - and then, probably, subsequently lowered once or twice without even the guise of scientific basis.

    Prettymuch everyone I know that still drinks (a lot of us have gotten into relationships with ironclad draconian liberal women who won't let them have alcohol) acknowledges that trying to stay under the limit is a fruitless pursuit, even with our crappy American beer. So we buy our pizza, our beer, and whatever other party paraphernialia we need, fortify ourselves inside someone's house (half in expectation of the SWAT team busting down the door and arresting us all for drunken operation of a billiards table or swimming pool) and drink it like water. Around noon next day, we pile into the car of the person who had 1 less than the others, and drive off to a diner for a deliciously yummy breakfast.

    The reality is that, at noon, we could be totally blasted and NEVER be stopped by a cop. Drink-drive laws are only enforced on holiday weekends (whereupon we fortify our position for the duration), at 11PM, and at 1:30AM (which is BEFORE bars actually close....)

    I've been stopped for drunk driving 4 times.... None of which I'd had a DAMN THING to drink. And every single time, it was a cover for the cop profiling myself as a likely drunk, my passengers as likely miscreants, or my vehicle as a likely stolen, or being pissed off because I was obviously speeding but he didn't have a legally admissible reading of my speed (around here, local cops are restricted to timing off painted lines of the roadway, or pacing with a calibrated speedometer, which has to be re-calibrated every 30 days... Which is never done. So, when you see a spraypaint line across the road, you stab the brakes, and accelerate when you pass the next one... And when you pass a parked cop, or one's behind you, you drive the 10mph over the speed limit you're legally entitled to drive)

    I've heard all sorts of madness about "SOBRIETY CHECKPOINTS" where they stop EVERY car on the road and breathalyze everyone, but I've only ever seen one of them.... At the exit to a motorcycle convention. Which is prettymuch where crap like that belongs, rather than in the middle of some roadway, causing massive pileups because of the unexpected backup.

  55. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    re : zero isn't feasible

    Yes, it is. It works fine in other countries.

    You just don't want to accept that being in charge of a vehicle with alcohol, any amount of alcohol, in your bloodstream, is your responsibility.

    "Ooooh. What if I'm over the limit in the morning?"

    Then you are OVER THE LIMIT you moron. Nobody made you do it.

    Maybe, if like me, a member of your family had been killed by somebody over the limit, you wouldn't be so blase about the risks and the need to use all possible measures to prevent it.

    "You're spoiling it for the majority" will not bring my four year-old niece back to life.

    Grow up, you ignoramus.

  56. David

    From the Kiwi perspective..

    Well, we had a government that dropped the limit a few years back.

    Now the government are upset at the worrying trend of more and more people getting stopped over the limit.

    Maybe it's the people who for most of their lives could have x drinks, drive home safely, and still be under both the legal limit and their own limit who are being caught out.

    I expect that you would see the same, people who are within safe limits being caught out.

    I am of the view that harsher penalties should be used, not lower limits. Those who are at fault in accidents are well over the limit generally, and of course those who repeatedly get caught at well over the limit aren't going to be stopped by a lower limit. First time should be a huge fine unless you could convince the judge that there was some mitigating factor. Second time should be jail time, and jail time of the sort that would mean that even the most wonderful boss would not keep your job open. 3rd time should be a life sentence.

    I myself am one of those who won't drink before riding.

  57. This post has been deleted by its author

  58. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is it just me, or does the following seem a bit silly:

    If we examine "1,050 17-19 year olds involved in drink drive accidents in 2005, compared to 810 a decade ago", the most important questions to ask are:

    1. How many licensed drivers between 17-19 years of age were there in 1995 and 2005?

    2. Have the numbers of licensed drivers involved in drink drive accidents increased proportionally to the number of 17-19 year old licensed drivers?

    If we compare statistics gleaned from, in 1995 there were 4,662,494 provisional licenses and 31,359,333 full licenses and in 2006 there were 6,419,876 provisional licenses and 34,775,587 full licenses, pointing to a growth rate of 38% on provisional licenses and 11% on full licenses between 1995 and 2005. With a growth rate of 30% for drivers between 17-19 years of age on drink drive accidents, it doesn't seem that the growth rates are entirely out of spec.

  59. Giles Jones Gold badge

    I wouldn't worry

    There seems to be no Traffic Police around anymore. I'm sitting here on a Sunday evening listening to morons racing around the roads here.

    The Police strategy seems to be to let the cameras do all the work, just patrol the streets at Christmas.

  60. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Future

    In The Future, we'll all live in little glass tubes. The oxygen will be purified and carefully metered. All our food will be organic and pure. Reproduction will be achieved in test tubes, and all sexual desire will be modified out of us.

    We won't need to travel; in The Future all work can be done by computer. Assuredly, very little else will be available by computer. We will live our entire lives without seeing each other, and no one will ever be offended again.

    There will be no smoking, no drinking, or food which does more than satisfy basic biological requirements. You will be told when to eat, when to drink.

    In the future, entertainment will be compulsory. There will be one song and one movie. They will be played continuously.

    In The Future, when the risks of travel, drugs, sex, and information have been removed, everyone will live happily ever after, for ever and ever.

    Or at least they think they will.

  61. the Jim bloke

    tighter laws without enforcement are meaningless

    Unless they are going to do something effective to the idiot drink drivers - and by that I mean the ones who couldn't care less if the legal limit is 0.05 or 0.50, the only result of this will be to make the police statistics look better.

    Any kind of one-size-fits-all law is just ignoring reality. A tiered response is needed, say .05 to .08, you get a warning, .08 to .1 you get locked up, and driving over .1 you get your balls nailed to a board, which will realy hurt once you sober up ( a separate penalty will apply for females - because a) they have lower alcohol tolerance anyway, and b) one-size-does-not-and-never-has-fit-all )

  62. Matt Thornton

    It's obvious

    Since the major concern here is statistics, the only solution is to put the limit UP not down. All Police forces look good, Government looks good, more money for everybody, I get to have a couple of pints after work without feeling guilty. Problem solved.

  63. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Limit of zero

    The idiots who are proposing limits of zero obviously didn't pass high school biology. Could they please be given free lobotomies?

  64. Scowners

    re tighter laws

    Completely agree... if you are going to break the law at .8 then it makes no difference what you reduce it to does it? If you were prepared to break the law then you will break it regardless of any new limit.

  65. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well something's working...

    A few things most people can agree on, I hope?

    Firstly, implementing road safety laws takes intelligent litigation and practical application - so the right law, and enforce it!

    Secondly, road deaths are falling. Not sure if it's the law, the enforcement, or educating the populace, but numbers for the UK:

    2003 3,508 dead

    2004 3,221 dead

    2005 3,201 dead

    Slow, but getting better.

    Thirdly, there cannot be a zero percent - it's unenforceable due to mouthwash, confectionary and/or medication. 80mg/100ml still catches drinkers the morning after, but that seems like a fair trade and a safe place to put the line. Alcohol in blood is alcohol in blood.

    So we have a falling death rate (please if someone has the 06 numbers add them to see if it's also on track), so is it wise to drop the level? Seems to me that the existing law works - so the focus should be less on talking numbers and more on enforcing the existing law!

    Finally, I just want to add some talking points if nooneminds.

    * according to "The UK driving limit is 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood - which is roughly equivalent to two pints of regular strength lager." Yet in Ireland, with the same 80mg limit, we're told that one pint will put you over the safe limit. Given our taxataion means most beers stop at 4.3% as a higher level puts more VAT on, how come it's considered "safe" at two pints in the UK?

    * Another Irish question! Something not mentioned here that surprises me is rural communties. Whiel most urban communities accept the law, rurual communities, in particlar the necessary farming regions, have very disperesed populations, with the pub being the remaining social point of contact for them. While to me it seems that if they drink, they should organise a minibus home for everyone or the like, there was uproar here during the past year as stringent enforcement was claimed to be robbing rural dwellers of their social life. Be wary, as you will no dount hear the same argument in the UK! I'm sympathetic, but since it's a balance of safety versus individualism, some small sacrifices must be made, and it's unfortunate that it affects soem regions more. Perhaps sub the publicans the price of a minibus if needs be!

    * ""You're spoiling it for the majority" will not bring my four year-old niece back to life." - I think there's noone posting here who doesn't have absolutely genuine sympathy for you and yours for the loss. But for reasons outlined above, a zero percent limit may be unenforceable, unless it's a step towards outlawing alcohol. Enforcement and education may do more to save lives, which is the ultimate goal. Nonetheless, my deepest condolences.


  66. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Reducing it to 0.5 could actually do some good

    Although it's got nothing to do with the statistics presented here. (With thanks to the poster who did all the research on DVLA stats - as long as there are drunk drivers, there is a problem.)

    The current limit allows you to have a pint (or fruit-based drink for the ladies) and still drive, or 2 pints at lunchtime and drive home in the evening. The trouble with that is that it clearly *doesn't* give out a message that it's not OK to drink and drive, because the current limit clearly implies that *is*!

    Reducing the limit to 40-50mg removes the implied tolerance of "it's OK to have 1 drink and drive" while allowing tolerance for medicines, last night's activity or a tasty steak and ale pie.

    Now if the DfT had actually spun it that way I'd have some respect for them. However as it is, we all know that what they really want is *more* convictions and thus more fines.

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