Drink drive offences down in Scotland

There has been a fall in drink-driving offences the first three months of the year in Scotland after the introduction of a lower alcohol limit.

The offences have fallen 17 per cent compared with the same period last year.

Chief Superintendent Iain Murray, head of road policing, said: “Police stop more than 20,000 Scottish drivers a month. That’s one vehicle every two minutes.

“If you have committed an offence, or if we have reasonable cause to suspect that you have been drinking, you may be subjected to a breath test.

“Even if you’re just over the limit, you’re still a drunk-driver in the eyes of the law – there is no grey area.”

Justice Secretary Michael Matheson said: “Since the introduction of the new lower drink-drive limit six months ago, Scotland is starting to see a real change in behaviour.

“Fewer drink-driving offences is a positive story for Scotland and shows that we’re leading social and legislative change in the UK.”

Elaine Hindal, chief executive at alcohol education charity Drinkaware, says: Even small amounts of alcohol affect your ability to drive so the only safe advice is to avoid any alcohol if you are driving.

“Men tend to process alcohol faster than women, whereas younger people tend to process alcohol more slowly.

“If you plan to drink when you go out, make alternative arrangements to driving; choose a ‘designated driver’ from your group of friends, plan your journey home if you have good public transport links or order a licensed taxi instead.”

Those who were opposed to the law when it was first introduced still show their reaction not on the measure itself but on the penalties accompanying this lower alcohol limit.

Paul Waterson, chief executive of the Scottish Licensed Trade Association said: “We were never opposed to the limit. We were opposed to the penalties. The Government showed restrictions over the limit, not the penalties. The penalties are  the same as in 80ml. The penalties is the problem, not the limit.

“In all offences there should be a graded system. People who don’t drink and drive can be caught. If you are caught between 50-80ml you have got a 20 year old criminal record, a fine and ban on driving. Penalties are severe and stop people enjoying a glass of wine or a beer with their meal.”

Drivers who are caught with a low-level reading, but are over the limit face the same minimum charge as the severe offenders which is a minimum of 12 months disqualification from driving, a substantial fine and possible imprisonment.