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Overwhelming support for lower drink drive limit

A public consultation launched by PCC Martyn Underhill to gain an insight into Dorset residents’ views on the drink drive limit has found that a majority of people would like to see a lower threshold introduced.

2,098 people shared their views in a survey, with 72% supportive of the legislative change to bring the current limit into line with standards seen in Scotland and Europe.  This result is consistent with the national British Social Attitudes survey, which found 77% of people think the limit should be lowered.

On a scale of ‘100% confident’ to ‘not at all confident’, on average, survey participants were only 53% confident that they knew how much alcohol they can legally consume under the current limit.

70% expressed a view that if the drink-drive limit was lowered, motorists would be more cautious about how much alcohol they consume before driving. 61% said they would feel safer when travelling in Dorset.

Of the participants who stated that they currently consume alcohol before driving, 38% said a lower limit would result in them consuming less alcohol before driving, while 40% would no longer consume any alcohol before getting behind the wheel.

Dorset PCC Martyn Underhill said: “These results clearly indicate that legislative change has the potential to not only affect drivers’ attitudes towards drink driving but also their behaviour on the roads and ultimately the choices they make. The current limit encourages motorists to “risk it”, a lower limit could make people think twice.”

Sir Peter North’s ‘Review of Drink and Drug Driving Law’ in 2010 found that drivers with a blood alcohol concentration of between 20mg per 100ml and 50 mg per 100 ml have at least a three times greater risk of dying in a vehicle crash than those drivers who have no alcohol in their blood. This risk increases to at least six times with a BAC between 50 mg per 100 ml and 80 mg per 100 ml.

The PCC continued: “In 2016, at least 4 serious injury collisions occurred in Dorset where alcohol was recorded as a contributory factor, but the level of alcohol in the motorists’ blood was below the current legal limit. This is why we need to think again.

“Any blood alcohol level impairs concentration and reaction times. Even a fraction of a second can completely change outcomes on the roads. While I recognise that many factors can contribute to collisions, any measure that can help to reduce overall risk is worthy of consideration.”

Support for legislative change was strongest among those in the 35-44 age range, with over 74% seeking a lower drink-drive limit as compared with just below 68% of participants between the ages of 55 and 64. Significantly, while 89% of female respondents supported a lower drink-drive limit, just 63% of participants that identified as male agreed.

With support from partner organisations, the PCC intends to raise this issue again with Government in the coming months.