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Pete Mitchell on Scotland’s new drink-drive limits

As Scotland lowers the drink-drive limit from 80mg to 50mg of alcohol in 100ml of blood, Criminal Law Solicitor Pete Mitchell offered his thoughts on what it could mean for the rest of the UK

Scotland’s new lower drink-drive limit comes into effect today, meaning that drivers north of the border will now be over the legal limit if they have more than 50mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood. This sets Scotland apart from England, Wales and Northern Ireland, where the legal limit, at least for the moment, remains at 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood.


This newly reduced drink-drive limit means that for an average man in Scotland, drinking a pint or a large glass of wine could put them over the limit. For a woman, it might take as little as half a pint or a small glass of wine to reach a similar blood alcohol level.


The change in the law brings Scotland into line with other European countries such as Ireland, Germany, France, Spain and Italy – all of whom share the 50mg limit. Whilst UK Road Safety Minister Robert Goodwill confirmed in October this year that there were no plans to alter the drink-drive limits in England, a similar reduction to that of Scotland’s is being considered by politicians in Northern Ireland.


What does reducing the drink-drive limit mean for road safety?


In a 2010 review by NICE, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence found ‘strong evidence to indicate that lowering the legal blood alcohol limit for drivers does help reduce road traffic injuries and deaths in certain contexts.’


In particular, one of the studies examined by NICE found that when limits were lowered from 80mg to 50mg in certain European countries, alcohol-related driving death rates amongst those aged 18-25 fell by 11.5%. Similarly, in another study looking at Australia’s decision to lower its drink-driving limit, there was a significant reduction in fatal road accidents of up to 18% in some areas of the country.


Here at Canter Levin & Berg Solicitors, our motoring and criminal law solicitors provide expert legal advice and assistance to people who are facing allegations relating to dangerous or drink-driving offences. Considering the change in Scottish motoring law regarding drink-driving, Pete Mitchell, head of the Motoring and Criminal Law department offered his thoughts on what this might mean for motorists in the rest of the UK:


“Whilst we would advise everyone that the safest thing at this time of the year is not to drink at all when driving, should you happen to fall foul of the law, or you find yourself accused of drink-driving, then myself and my colleagues in the Motoring and Criminal Law Department are able to provide expert legal advice and representation. We can also attend at Police station across Merseyside and we currently operate a fixed fee scheme for motoring related offences.”
By Pete Mitchell