Motorists told there’s no excuse to drink-drive

The new blood alcohol limit can catch drivers out after a single pint. Picture: John Devlin

The new blood alcohol limit can catch drivers out after a single pint. Picture: John Devlin

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MOTORISTS have “no excuse” for falling foul of drink-drive laws in Edinburgh because of the city’s first-rate public transport system, Scotland’s head of road safety has warned.

Michael McDonnell, the director of Road Safety Scotland, said revellers ringing in New Year can reap the benefits of the new tram line or extensive bus service and have no reason to drink and drive.

The warning comes weeks after Police Scotland began enforcing the toughest drink-drive restrictions in the UK, with a new blood alcohol limit that can catch out drivers after a single pint.

The new limit of 50 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood was introduced on December 5, with four Scots arrested after failing breath tests within the first 24 hours.

Figures for the number of arrests across Scotland under the new regime are expected to be published before New Year.

Police have warned drivers that there will be no discretion for drivers who are only slightly over the limit, with anyone failing a roadside breath test facing a fine, a year-long driving ban and a possible jail sentence.

Mr McDonnell said it was a “disgrace” that an average of 20 Scots a year were killed – and a further 90 injured – in car accidents involving alcohol.

He said: “We need to look at those people who are still prepared to have that one drink.

“We are looking to challenge what people see as their ‘safe limit’ – people who think they can have a pint, or a pint-and-a-half. But it doesn’t matter if you’re three times over the limit or just over the limit.

“In the eyes of the law, you’re a drunk driver and you’ll be fined. There will be the possibility of imprisonment, you will be banned for a year and you’ll have a criminal record.”

He added: “I think the good thing about Edinburgh is that there will be many arrangements in place to ensure that people who visit the Hogmanay party will be able to get home safely. We’re working with Diageo to make sure that the drink-drive message is prevalent in and around that occasion.

“There is no excuse in Edinburgh. There are plenty of opportunities to take public transport. There are even companies that come in a tiny breakdown scooter, pack it away in your boot and drive you home.”

Free bus services to take revellers home are set to run between 12.20am and 4am, with details of the routes published on the Edinburgh’s Hogmanay website.

Lives have already been saved over Christmas thanks to the new rules, according to transport expert Richard Allsop.

He said: “The lower limit means that, without knowing it, quite a few families will be spared their Christmas and Hogmanay being overshadowed by bereavement or lifelong injury from a drink-drive collision – and by next year, the number will be much larger.”

paris.gourtsoyannis@edinburghnews.com