JUSTICE Secretary Kenny MacAskill today set out plans to cut the drink-driving limit in a bid to save lives on Scotland’s roads.
The Scottish Government wants to use its newly devolved power over the amount of alcohol motorists can drink and reduce the legal limit from the current 80mg per 100ml to 50mg per 100ml.
Mr MacAskill said more than one in nine road deaths involved drivers who were over the limit.
Launching a consultation on the proposals, Mr MacAskill said: “This government has made it clear that we want a lower drink-driving limit as we believe it will help make Scotland’s roads safer.
“While drink-driving is now rightly recognised by the vast majority of motorists as dangerous and reckless, too many drivers still ignore the warnings and put lives at risk by drinking and driving. The consequences can be devastating.
“The launch of this consultation marks another important step in tackling the scourge of drink-driving.”
The Scotland Act, passed earlier this year, transferred responsibility for the drink-drive limit in Scotland from Westminster to Holyrood.
Lowering the limit to 50mg would bring Scotland in line with other European countries such as Germany, France and Spain. The UK Government currently has no plans to follow suit for England and Wales.
Mr MacAskill said: “We strongly believe that reducing the drink-driving limit will save lives. Tragically, figures estimate that just over one in nine deaths on Scotland’s roads involve drivers who are over the limit, which equates to an average of 30 deaths on Scotland’s roads every year.
“That is 30 too many, and we are proposing action to help reduce this number.”
He said estimates of how many lives could be saved with a lower limit varied, but there was evidence to suggest that between three and 17 lives each year could be saved on Scottish roads.
Mr MacAskill said: “This swift use of the newly devolved powers on drink- driving shows we are ready to make use of these new powers to help make Scotland a safer place.”
Road safety campaign Brake has said lowering the drink-drive limit to 50mg is a step in the right direction, though it wants to go further and bring in a “zero tolerance” policy towards drink-driving.
The Institute of Advanced Motorists has argued lowering the limit could stretch police resources and lead to many drivers being caught who were not causing problems.