Alex Attwood, Northern Ireland’s Environment Minister, has announced plans for a reduction from the current legal limit of 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood to 50mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood. An even lower limit - of 20mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood - is proposed for inexperienced drivers and those who drive for a living.
Kevin Clinton, head of road safety at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), said: “RoSPA has long campaigned for a lower drink-drive limit across the whole of the UK, which no government has yet been willing to implement. We support Northern Ireland's proposal and hope that if it goes ahead the rest of the UK would follow its lead. A lower limit would save lives.”
Other proposals outlined by Attwood are for:
• A graduated penalty regime including fixed penalties for first offences at lower limits
• Random breath testing powers which would enable police to breathalyse drivers without the need to have reasonable suspicion that the driver had taken alcohol
• Automatic referral of offenders to an approved drink-drive rehabilitation scheme
• Removal of the right, in certain circumstances, for a driver to ask for a blood or urine sample to replace a breath test sample.
The Department of the Environment intends to have the proposed drink-drive legislation ready for public consultation by March 2012.