Enough to drive you to drink…

So, then, Sir Peter North has produced a report looking for the legal blood-alcohol limit for driving to be lowered, as ‘hundreds’ of lives could be saved. The Express and Star ran the story on the front page, and followed it up with this rather sad tale of people whose lives were changed for the worse by a convicted drink driver.

Personally, I don’t see any need for change at all, despite the many people whose lives are shattered by drink-drivers. All the death, injury, carnage etc, as detailed in our papers: and let’s be clear about this, that’s speaking as a driver and drinker who rarely combines the two, and if I do, I’d still be way below even the new proposed limit.

i say this because I’ve noticed the key fact the stories linked above mention only in passing: Most people who have been drinking, then choose to drive, and cause one of these tragedies are a long way over the existing limit. In the E&S story, the driver at fault was 3 times over the current limit. Would lowering the limit have helped here? I think not.

It’s like the speed limit lowering after a fatal accident. Take this road. It used to have a 60mph limit, though to be honest, you’d have to be brave and have good conditions to even consider that. A few years ago, someone drives at an estimated 80mph, and, predictably, loses it, killing himself. The limit is lowered to 40.

What’s needed here is enforcement of the existing law (if we take the assumption that people don’t have the brains to realise driving after too many drinks (or driving too fast for the conditions and their ability)) and need to have legal controls placed upon them, not lowering the limit to make it harder for people who are being responsible. It seems that the transport minister may think so too:

But Transport Minister Philip Hammond said persistent drink drivers were “less likely to be deterred by a reduction in the limit than by a greater prospect of being caught”.

I personally reckon that provided you weren’t actually pissed enough to crash into someone/something, you could drink and drive on a regular basis and get away with it: There’s so few traffic police about that you would have to be very unlucky to get caught.

Doesn’t mean I’ll be testing that theory though.

4 Responses to “Enough to drive you to drink…”

  1. Stu Says:


    They need to look at the number of people below the limit who have caused accidents directly as a result of their drinking before thinking about lowering the limit.

    And this is from someone who doesn’t touch a drop if he’s driving but would rather not get banged up for having a lunch-time pint then driving in the evening, or for having a portion of sherry trifle or a liqueur chocolate.

  2. stymaster Says:

    Indeed. I don’t drink more than 1 shandy or small beer if I’m out in the car, and only then if I’m eating and likely to be a good while, plus the fact that I’m male, and quite large, will affect absorption.

    Thankfully there’s no suggestion of a ‘zero’ limit (though it would not be actually zero, probably ~20mg), but even so, I reckon strict policing of the current limit would be far more effective.

  3. Lee H-W Says:

    I wonder where they got the 300 figure from, and how that compares to the deaths caused by bald tyres, not wearing a seat belt or driving with excess speed which are currently illegal but people still do it. all it will do is force a few, usually, law abiding people off the road, while large numbers of people (will resist listing a few stereotypical groups) drive every day breaking every single automotive law in the book..

    DVLA estimates that some 1.75 million vehicles, which is 5.6% of registered vehicles, do not have valid vehicle excise duty (VED).

  4. stymaster Says:

    The current focus on speed and speed alone means that many illegal drivers stand no chance of being caught. ANPR is making a dent, but not enough.

    All the laws and limits required exist and have for years: Why do we need a specific offence for mobile phones, for example, when driving without due care and attention exists?