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Road safety groups call for cut to drink-drive limit as South Holland's rates soar

A lower drink-drive limit is needed in the fight to stop people getting behind the wheel after consuming alcohol, according to a major new report.

The Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (PACTS) has come up with up a raft of measures that it says are needed to cut down on drink-driving.

One of which is to reduce the drink-drive breath test limit - following in the footsteps of Scotland.

Springfields motorbike showJohn Siddle of Lincs Road Safety Partnership re-introduces Bike Safe, 5 years after it was stopped. (27061634)
Springfields motorbike showJohn Siddle of Lincs Road Safety Partnership re-introduces Bike Safe, 5 years after it was stopped. (27061634)

In England the legal alcohol limit for drivers is 35 microgrammes in 100 millilitres of breath - and 80 milligrammes in 100 millilitres in blood. Scotland’s limits are 22 and 50 respectively.

Nowhere in England has a higher rate of alcohol related road traffic accidents than South Holland - bringing the matter into greater focus here.

David Davies, Executive Director of PACTS, said: “Scotland introduced a reduced drink drive limit in 2014, in line with most other countries in Europe.

“It has been accepted by the public; it has not significantly impacted pubs and restaurants or overloaded the police or the courts. Northern Ireland plans to go further, with a zero limit for novice and professional drivers.

“A lower limit is not a magic bullet but government policies to reduce drink driving will lack credibility as long as they avoid this change.”

Lincolnshire Road Safety Partnership’s John Siddle said: “Lowering the limit may strike a chord with those that have grown up in the ‘two pints’ era however, the results of some drivers appear to be two or three times the limit and more which shows a total disregard for the safety of themselves and other road users.”

In its report - Taking stock, moving forward - PACTS recommends mandatory breath testing powers for the police, increased enforcement and bigger penalties for drivers who combine drink and drugs.

As well as lower breath test limits, it also wants specialist rehabilitation courses for those with mental health and alcohol problems and reforms to the High Risk Offender Scheme.

Mr Davies said: “After 10 years of declining levels of enforcement and social media campaigns aimed at young men, it is time for a new, more comprehensive approach to reducing the toll of drink drive deaths and injuries.

“Drink driving is often cited as a road safety success story, yet it remains a major killer and progress has ground to a halt since 2010. Not only is better enforcement important but also the problems of mental health and alcohol dependency need to be recognised.”

Responding to the report, Mr Siddle said: “We would certainly welcome tougher sentences for professional drivers who already have higher levels of punishment for mobile phone offences. They have a greater responsibility so should expect the courts to be tougher.

“We need a working partnership with all the agencies involved to firstly stop those that would drive whilst impaired - and get them support so they do not reoffend.

“I understand the ‘carrot’ of completing a drink/drug driving course to halve their driving ban. However, if most are reoffending - as this report suggests - we need more work in this area to get these drivers out of the depression, alcoholism or the decision making process that they feel it is okay to drive whilst impaired and only then will we make other road users safe.”

Read more on the fight to fix South Holland's drink-drive issue here.

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