Plans afoot for lower drink drive limit

MOTORISTS driving over the border from England within the current drink drive limit could soon be breaking the law if the Scottish Government forges ahead with its plans to lower the permitted level for Scotland.

And Lothian and Borders Police say they will be ready to catch drivers who arrive in the country over the proposed drink drive limit of 50mg of alcohol in 100ml of blood, with Chief Constable David Strang lending his backing to the bid.

This means anyone who’s had a drink and drives the short distance from Berwick to Burnmouth or the even shorter trip from Cornhill to Coldstream could be at risk of prosecution.

The current drink drive limit for both England and Scotland is 80mg of alcohol in 100ml of blood but Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill believes reducing the limit by 30mg would save lives.

However, despite supporting any plans which could potentially make the region’s roads safer, Berwickshire MSP John Lamont said rather than altering the drink drive limit at a risk of confusing motorists, the Government should be taking more of a zero tolerance approach to the issue.

He told ‘The Berwickshire News’: “The focus of the Scottish Government should be to discourage such reckless behaviour.

“Instead of fussing over the small difference between 50 and 80mg they should be focusing on cracking down on those individuals who drink heavily before getting in their car.

“Drivers will obviously be puzzled that they can be driving legally in England, only to be found illegally over the limit a few miles later. However, should the limit be reduced, it is only correct that Lothian and Borders police enforce the law correctly.”

Superintendent Andrew Allan, Local Area Commander for the Scottish Borders said if people wanted to consume any alcohol they shouldn’t get behind the wheel of their car at all.

He commented: “We support the ACPOS position in relation to drinking and driving which is that you should not drink and drive.”

The current 80mg limit both north and south of the border has stood since 1966 but powers to alter the limit for Scotland were handed to Holyrood under the 2012 Scotland Act.

Ministers have made it clear they want to bring Scotland in line with most of continental Europe as soon as possible and a consultation on the move was launched last week.

South of Scotland MSP Paul Wheelhouse said that with a lower limit having a positive impact across the Continent, its only right that Scotland follow suit, although like Supt. Allan he added anyone wanting to drink should leave their cars at home.

“Drink driving is a serious problem on Scotland’s roads and the Scottish Government is rightly taking action on this, as it will help save lives,” he said.

“To that end Lothian and Borders Police are well within their rights to prosecute anyone caught exceeding the legal drink-drive limit in Scotland and I do not see how this could be challenged either at the current limit or if the limit changes in future.

“It is essential that drivers take their responsibility to themselves, their passengers and to others seriously and to know the rules of the road in whichever country they are driving.

“I would suggest all drivers err on the side of caution and refrain from drinking alcohol and driving altogether.”