Drink-drive change could benefit the off-trade

11 June, 2010

The UK is under pressure to lower the blood-alcohol limit for drivers in a move that could indirectly benefit the off-trade.

When breathalyser legislation was introduced in 1967 it was blamed for the closure of thousands of pubs in the decades which followed, as more motorists opted to drink at home.

Sir Peter North has submitted his report on drink-driving laws to transport secretary Philip Hammond, and is widely believed to have recommended decreasing the current legal levels of 80mg of alcohol in 10cl of blood to 50mg, in line with most European countries.

The British Medical Association has long campaigned for such a move, citing research which shows this would save 65 lives every year.

North has considered evidence from various sources since embarking on his review in December. It is thought random breath tests for drivers, a 20mg limit for HGV and novice drivers, and a new system of penalties for offenders have been recommended.

The UK has one of the most tolerant regimes in Europe, along with Ireland, Malta, Luxembourg and Switzerland. Countries which already enforce a 50mg/10cl limit include France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Belgium and the Netherlands.

ithuania, Poland, Norway and Sweden all insist on a 20mg/10cl maximum, while in several countries – including Hungary, the Czech Republic and Romania – there is zero tolerance of any alcohol in the bloodstream of drivers.

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