The Scottish government has made plans to lower the limit for drink-driving in the country, and they want to make this a priority. Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill says the limit will be lowered from 80mg to 50mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood. Under the 2012 Scotland Act, the government has been granted the power to amend the drink-driving limit.
MacAskill says the government has called for the drink-driving limit to be reduced to 50mg for a long time. They strongly believe reducing the limit will save lives. Evidence from throughout Europe shows that the number of deaths in alcohol-related road accidents falls significantly wherever the limit is reduced, he added. This is the same limit implemented across several European nations – including Italy, Spain, France, the Netherlands and Germany.
With this announcement, the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) has said the government should take the impact a driving ban, fines and other sanctions would have on lives into account before offenders are punished for driving after having just one glass of wine. Director of policy Neil Greig says enforcing bans for a lower drink-driving limit could divert police resources for tackling more serious offences. He asked if a driver should face a 12-month ban, large fine, losing their job, seven years of higher insurance premiums, jail time and the possibility of forfeiting their vehicle after having just one glass of wine – even though they haven’t caused any problem on the road.
Greig says this isn’t an easy question to answer, but they believe it needs to be addressed by legislators and enforcement agencies. In several parts of Europe, a lower drink-driving limit has been imposed with shorter bans and lower fines to address this. If the number of motorists who are caught over the lower limit is high, it could divert police resources away from the worst offenders who ignore the limit and actually cause a majority of the worst road accidents.
Motorists who are caught over the drink-driving limit risk a 12-month ban, £5,000 fine, a criminal record, the loss of their vehicle, and six months in jail. A spokesman for the Scottish government said that the Procurator Fiscal is the one that will decide if it’s in the public interest to prosecute. It’s also their decision to determine an appropriate penalty or sentence. The government has been calling for the drink-driving limit to be reduced to 50mg for a while to bring Scotland in line with the rest of Europe. They strongly believe that lowering the limit will save lives.
The spokesman continued that most Scots recognise that drink-driving is dangerous and shameful in society, but there are still too many deaths every year on the nation’s roads due to drink-driving. All the evidence shows that road deaths related to alcohol dramatically decline where the limit has been lowered. The current limit leaves too much room for confusion. It’s sad that they are still seeing hundreds of people ignore the warnings every year and put lives at risk by drinking and driving. This is reckless and completely unacceptable, as the consequences can be devastating for victims and families. Their proposed changes will mean drink-drivers are left without excuses.
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