Government U-turn on drink-driving puts lives at risk, says Swanswell

11 February 2016

Swanswell, a national alcohol and drug recovery charity, has expressed concern that the current drink-drive limit in England and Wales is putting lives at risk unnecessarily. Swanswell were responding to reports that the UK Government has ruled out a reduction in the drink-driving limit after initially indicating it was prepared to consider a change.

The latest figures show that 240 people were killed by drink-driving in 2014 and over 1,000 were seriously injured. According to the RAC Foundation, lowering the limit would have saved 25 lives last year and prevented 95 serious injuries.

At 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood, the drink-driving limit in England and Wales is one of the most lenient in Europe. In 2014, the limit in Scotland was reduced to 50mg per 100ml of blood, bringing it into line with most European countries.

Swanswell insists the best advice to drivers is to avoid alcohol altogether, although they believe a reduced limit would be a step in the right direction. The national alcohol and drug recovery charity believes greater education is the key to tackling drink-driving in the longer term.

As many as one in five drink-drive offences occur the morning after heavy drinking and one in three incidents involve a driver under the age of 24. Evidence, say the national charity, that many people don’t understand drink-driving laws or how soon it’s safe to drive after drinking.

They’re campaigning for a change in the law so that new drivers are required to attend a drug and drink-driving workshop as part of their theory test.

Responding to the news Swanswell’s Chief Executive Debbie Bannigan said; ‘We would like to see motorists advised to avoid alcohol altogether because there’s no safe limit at which to drink and drive. However, a reduction in the current drink-drive limit would be a step in the right direction so the announcement by the UK Government that they aren’t prepared to consider this is really disappointing. Although we all have a part to play in tackling drink-driving it’s up to government to show leadership.’

She added; ‘Ultimately, we believe that education is the best way to help people to think again about drink-driving. It’s ridiculous that drink-driving workshops already exist but people are only sent on them when they’ve offended. Why don’t we make better use of this resource and give people access to it before they pass their test? Most people who’ve offended say they wish they’d been on the drink-driving course before their conviction and if they had maybe the outcome would have been different?’


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