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24 October 2014, 11:32
A lower drink-drive limit is to be introduced on Scotland's roads in time for Christmas.
Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill has announced plans which would cut the blood alcohol limit from 80mg in every 100ml of blood to 50mg from December 5.
The measure, if approved by the Scottish Parliament, would see Scotland's legal alcohol limit brought into line with most of Europe but it would be lower than that south of the border.
Mr MacAskill said the new limit would send a "clear message'' to drivers who ignore the warnings that there is never an excuse to drink and drive.
He said: "Drink-driving shatters families and communities and we must take action to reduce the risk on our roads.
"The latest estimates show that approximately one in 10 deaths on Scottish roads involve drivers who are over the legal limit and research shows that even just one alcoholic drink before driving can make you three times as likely to be involved in a fatal car crash.
"As a result, 20 families every year have to cope with the loss of a loved one and around 760 people are treated for injuries caused by someone who thought it was acceptable to drink alcohol and get behind the wheel and drive. We cannot let this continue.
"That's why I have today introduced legislation to lower the drink-drive limit in Scotland so that, subject to parliamentary approval, new laws will be in place in time for the beginning of the festive period.''
The Scottish Government previously announced the intention to reduce the limit following a consultation which found almost three-quarters of those who responded believed the drink-drive limit should be lowered.
Mr MacAskill added: "Getting behind the wheel after drinking can have fatal consequences. The advice is simple: if you have had any alcoholic drink whatsoever, don't drive. No-one should be drinking and driving and the new lower limit only reinforces what should already be the case with drivers taking full responsibility and not putting lives at risk.
"Lowering the drink-drive limit will help make Scotland's roads safer. It is the right thing to do and, most importantly, it will save lives, meaning that fewer families have to go through the heartache of a loved one lost.''
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) welcomed the announcement and called for the rest of the UK to follow suit.
Sandy Allan, RoSPA's road safety manager in Scotland, said: "There is a considerable body of research which shows that reducing drink-drive limits is effective in reducing drink-drive deaths and injuries. We would like to see the rest of the UK follow Scotland's example.''
Scottish Conservatives have criticised the move, saying it risks "creating criminals'' out of people who are ``hardworking, law-abiding citizens''.
Alex Johnstone, the party's transport spokesman, said: "The view of many people is we should focus resources on people who are three, four or even five times the legal limit.
"But with this move, the risk is police will stop chasing maniacs on a Saturday night who are inebriated behind the wheel, and instead target young mothers in supermarket car parks on Sunday mornings.
"It would be a huge mistake for police to switch their focus to those who are between the new limit and the existing limit. But of course, they will be the easy ones to target, because they won't object, they'll pay their fines, and make a lot of money for the state in the process.
"This reduction risks creating criminals of people who are perfectly law-abiding, hardworking individuals, while reducing the spotlight on those who are truly dangerous drivers.''