Use broader approach to tackle drink driving
As a UK magistrate and a regular visitor, spending four to six weeks a year on this jewel of an island, I read with interest Paul Johnston’s article on the Government’s consideration to reduce the drink-drive alcohol limit from 80mgs to 50mgs per 100ml of blood. I suspect it’s no coincidence that it follows yet another two road deaths in the last few days.
In my experience on the UK bench, I have seen many drink-drive cases and would say that the vast majority of those caught are more than twice if not three times the legal limit. They are prolific drinkers (male and female) who have little or no regard for legal limits and will therefore always drink and drive.
So, before reducing the limit, the Government should decide who they actually want to target in reducing fatalities and is lowering the limit the best way to achieve this goal? In the last three years of fatalities, how many were over the drink limit? And to what degree? How many had taken drugs and to what degree? This data must of course include both the deceased and other involved parties.
A blanket policy of limit reduction is a clear political move on the moral high ground. Although I applaud any move to reduce deaths on “our” roads it should not necessarily be the main focus of effort and finances. The UK Government has adopted a broader approach by “improving enforcement and education to tackle the drink and drug drivers who put lives at risk.
The latter of these two demographics has been addressed side by side and should not be put on the back burner in favour of “sobriety” but tackled as a common scourge of dangerous driving.
The UK has a drug-drive limit policy which, although not perfect is, I believe, becoming more effective. No longer can you smoke weed, drive and get away with it in the UK. Random roadside testing is a must, together with targeted education, which has been proven time again to be more effective than the sledgehammer to crack the nut principle.
ANDREW CAMPBELL JP
Suffolk Bench, UK
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