Lib Dems propose Lowering Drink Drive Limit to Save Lives

The Oldham Liberal Democrats will propose a motion to Council (12th July) that England’s drink drive limit be reduced to bring it into line with Scotland and many European countries.

Proposing the motion, Shaw Lib Dem Councillor Chris Gloster said:

“I spent thirty years in the Police service, twenty five of which were spent as a roads policing officer at different levels. My final role was as a senior officer investigating road collisions where tragically there had been deaths or serious injuries.

“I have seen first-hand the misery that drink-driving brings to families, and continues to bring them every day; yet there are mixed messages for motorists. The Government tells motorists not to drink and drive, but then advocates two pints and you are likely to be ok to drive. The message should be none for the road and the limit should be reduced to be in line with the majority of Europe at least”.

The current limit in the majority of the United Kingdom is 80 microgrammes (mg) per 100millilitres (ml) of blood. This is the highest limit in Europe, shared only by Malta.  Scotland has however recently reduced its drink drive limit to 50mg per 100ml of blood mirroring the limit in many European countries, and Northern Ireland is currently considering the same measure.

Cllr Gloster explained the rationale for the reduction:  “A lower limit will make people think twice about that extra drink. Everyone has different tolerance levels to alcohol and the current level can make someone unfit to drive, even though they are not over the legal limit of 80 microgrammes of alcohol in their blood. I am confident that a lower limit will save lives”.

In 2014, on average 5 people a day were killed and 62 seriously injured on Britain’s roads. Statistics show that on average nearly 1 in 6 collisions that result in a fatality, the driver is in excess of the legal alcohol limit for driving.

New statistics show that older motorists are drink-driving in record numbers. The number aged 65 and above involved in smashes rose from 1,295 in 2005 to 1,435 by 2015. Those involving drivers under 19 fell from 6,744 to 1,436.

The motion is backed by the Cllr Gloster’s Shaw colleague, Lib Dem Leader Cllr Rod Blyth: “I am grateful to Chris for bringing this important issue to the attention of full Council.

“The current position is illogical in law, and must be bewildering to the motorist, when a driver under the legal limit in England, can be immediately prosecuted once they cross the Scottish border.

“We need consistency in our treatment of drivers wherever they consume alcohol within the United Kingdom. Scotland has reduced the limit, Northern Ireland is considering following suit, so it seems sensible for everyone to adopt the lower limit.

“And there are clearly road safety grounds for having a lower limit in place in any case.

“It is frightening that in 1966, there were 7,985 fatalities on Britain’s roads, yet by 1980, this figure had halved and by 2014 halved again. Although modern cars contain many safety features, much of the reduction is due to the introduction of the breathyliser in 1967, to Government road safety campaigns around drink-driving, and to changing public attitudes about its acceptability.

“The Oldham Liberal Democrats now feel that we need to take the drink drive limit lower to further reduce road deaths; every one of which is an individual tragedy.”


  • A 50mg limit would mean an average man would be limited to just under a pint of beer or a large glass of wine and women to half a pint of beer or a small glass of wine.
  • The Czech Republic, Romania, Hungary and Slovakia have introduced a zero-tolerance policy
  • Germany has a 50mg limit – but for new drivers, the limit is 0.

Source: European Transport Safety Council

The Motion reads: Lowering the Drink Drive Limit

 On average 3,000 people are killed or seriously injured each year in drink drive collisions on Britain’s roads.

Nearly one in six of all deaths on the road involve drivers who are over the legal alcohol limit.

Council notes that:

  • The current permitted limit in England, Wales and Northern Ireland is 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood
  • In Scotland the limit was reduced in December 2014 to 50mg

This Council believes that, as a contribution towards a further reduction in road deaths, the drink drive limit should be reduced across England, Wales and Northern Ireland to 50mg per 100ml of blood to bring it into line with Scotland.

This Council therefore resolves to ask the Chief Executive to write to the Secretary of State for Transport, The Rt. Hon. Patrick McLoughlin MP, to outline this Council’s position and to ask him to introduce this measure as soon as is practicable.

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