Four Held As Drink-Drive Limit Cut

5 December 2014, 12:10

A stricter drink-drive limit has come into force in Scotland, making it lower than the rest of the UK.

The limit north of the border is now 50mg of alcohol in 100ml of blood, down from 80mg.

Holyrood's Justice Secretary Michael Matheson said the move would help save lives and reduce accidents on Scotland's roads.

Drivers south of the border have been warned they could legally get behind the wheel after having a drink in England, but find they are over the limit if they travel north into Scotland.

Four people were arrested across Scotland between the new law coming into force at one minute past midnight and 6am today.

In Glasgow, police carried out an operation stopping drivers in the Gorbals area as part of their annual festive drink-drive campaign.

Mr Matheson, who was at the operation, said: "The principle purpose behind this change is to make the roads in Scotland safer. One in 10 of all the fatalities that occur on our roads each year are associated with someone who is over the drink-drive limit.

"That's 20 lives that are lost, families that are devastated through the loss of their loved one as well, and by reducing the drink-drive limit we want to send a very strong message to drivers that we will not tolerate drink-driving and that you put yourself at risk of being caught drink-driving by this reduction in the drink-driving limit.

"I believe that will not only reduce accidents but also reduce fatalities on Scottish roads and in that way make Scottish roads safer.''

He said that Scotland is leading the way across the UK and that the change will bring the country into line with the rest of Europe.

The lower limit has been brought in north of the border after Holyrood unanimously approved the move last month.

Police Scotland Assistant Chief Constable Bernard Higgins said: "The message for me is very clear. Every time you get behind the wheel having consumed alcohol you're presenting a risk to yourself, to other road users and to pedestrians, so don't do it, it's simply not worth it.

"Far too many people die or are injured each year on Scotland's roads as a result of drink-driving and the irresponsible disregard shown by drink-drivers for not only their own safety but that of other road users and pedestrians.

"Evidence from across Europe, where the lower limit already applies, suggests we will see reductions in drink-driving and a corresponding increase in lives saved.''

He also warned people to think carefully about driving the morning after a night out if they have been drinking.

Almost eight in 10 (79%) Scottish motorists support the reduction, according to a new survey.

The RAC study also found more than a third (38%) of UK motorists living outside Scotland believe the alcohol limit for driving should be reduced to the same level throughout the rest of Britain.

The study of 2,607 motorists - including 10% from Scotland - found almost a quarter (23%) of UK drivers would prefer to go a step further and have a total ban on consuming any alcohol before driving.

While the limit in the rest of the UK will remain at 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood, campaigners called on Westminster to take a tougher approach against drink-driving.

Road safety organisation Brake is calling for a limit of just 20mg to be brought in.

AA president Edmund King said: "The different limits north and south of the border should not be a problem if drivers follow the mantra: If you are going to drive, don't drink, and if you are going to drink, don't drive. It is far too dangerous to try to judge how much you can safely drink whether the limit is 50mg or 80mg.''

Campaigners at Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems have also welcomed the reduction.