Some observations on the plans to reduce the drink drive limit in the UK from 80 mg alcohol/100 ml blood to 50 mg, suggested by the North Report.
1. The current level is not strongly enforced. Wouldn’t it make more sense to enforce it more strongly than to change it?
2. The penalty for driving above the current limit is severe – 12 months loss of licence and a large fine – if a new lower limit were introduced it would make sense to have a sliding scale of punishment, perhaps starting with just a fine.
3. The notion that an accident is caused by alcohol if alcohol is present in the bloodstream of a driver involved in an accident is logically false. To obtain the contribution of alcohol to accidents you need to subtract from the accident rates of those who have been drinking the accident rates experienced by those who have not.
4. Is there good evidence that many accidents are caused by people who are between 50 and 80 mg/100 ml blood?
5. I enjoy a glass or two of wine with a meal, even if I have to drive home. I’m not over the current limit after this, and I have never had an accident after having a drink. I would be upset to have this pleasure taken away.
6. The current system works quite well: the UK has a very low rate of road accidents compared with other countries.
6. So drinking a little alcohol may statistically increase the risk of an accident. But so does being old (slower reflexes) or young (recklessness). Should we stop the young and old driving? A line has to be drawn somewhere, but exactly where? Common sense is called for.