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Drink driving deaths reach record high

This month, the Department of Transport published provisional estimates for drink drive crashes and casualties in Great Britain in 2017. They show that there has been an estimated increase in the number of people killed in crashes where one driver was over the drink drive limit, reaching a central estimate of 290, up from 230 in 2016 and the highest level since 2009.

The number of total crashes involving a drink driver however is estimated to have fallen by 6% to 5,730, down from 6,070 in 2016.

The figures come as England and Wales now stand alone with the highest drink drive limit in the whole of Europe at 0.8mg of alcohol in 100ml of blood, after Malta, the previous joint highest, lowered their drink drive limit to 0.5mg of alcohol in 100ml of blood last year.

Josh Harris, director of campaigns for the road safety charity Brake commented:

“Whilst it’s encouraging that the total number of crashed involving a drink driver appears o have fallen, it is trying that the estimated number of people killed continues to increase. With England an Wales now having the dubious honour of the highest drink-drive limit in Europe,  we have to ask how many more lives must be lost for the Government to act on drink driving?”

“Our current drink-drive limit gives a false impression that it is acceptable to mix alcohol and driving – which couldn’t further from the truth. Even very small amounts alcohol dramatically affect your ability to drive safely. Decisive action is needed to end. this blight one our. road and prevent the needless loss of life. Brake is calling for the Government to implement an effective zero tolerance drink-drive limit, making clear to drivers that not a drop of alcohol is safe.”

We couldn’t agree more Josh – we think the only safe limit is zero.

Do you know your limits?

In England & Wales, the drink drive limit is 35µg (micrograms) of alcohol per 100ml of breath or 0.08% BAC (0.8mg of alcohol in 100ml of blood).

In Scotland & Northern Ireland, the drink drive limit is 22µg of alcohol per 100ml of breath or 0.05% BAC (0.5mg of alcohol in 100ml of blood).

So does this mean that if you’re driving in England & Wales, you’re safe to drive with alcohol in your system, as long as it’s less than the legal drink driving limit of 35µg (micrograms) of alcohol per 100ml of breath? The answer is no. There is additional legislation that all drivers should be aware of:

‘A person who, when driving or attempting to drive a mechanically propelled vehicle on a road or other public place, is unfit to drive through drink or drugs is guilty of an offence.

– Section 4 of the Road Traffic Act 1988

So what does this mean? It’s simple; if you are impaired by alcohol whilst driving and therefore unfit to drive, then you could be guilty of a drink driving offence. You could be arrested, even if you are below the legal drink drive limit when breathalysed.

It’s a fact many drivers don’t know and proves that drink driving is considerably more complicated than other motoring offences, like speeding. Or is it? The UK speed limit is 70mph!? No, actually it’s not – the speed limit is dependant on the road that you are driving on. The speed limit changes depending on how many incidents have occured on that road, the surrounding environment and whether there is construction work going on. The drink driving limit is just as malleable; if you are impaired or above the limit, you are unfit to drive!

It’s simple enough; the only safe limit is zero. If you are going to drink, don’t drive and take a taxi or rideshare share instead – there is never a good enough reason to drink alcohol and drive. For the ‘morning-after’ a quick breath test on a digital breathalyser will allow you to check that all the alcohol from the ‘night before’ has left your system and you are safe to drive.