Blood alcohol limit back on political agenda

Brace yourself for reporters swigging beers on Seven Sharp then breath-testing themselves and arguments at work drinks over how much booze is too much before driving home.

Thoroughly thrashed in the media a few years ago, the blood alcohol limit for drivers is again in the spotlight with Labour MP Iain Lees Galloway’s private members bill on the issue pulled from the ballet this week.

His bill calls for a reduction in the legal blood alcohol limit from 80 micrograms to 50 micrograms per 100ml of blood.

The Government effectively parked this issue when it introduced some road safety reforms a few years back, asking for more research on the blood alcohol issue. Critics accused it of trying to protect the liquor industry.

As the Herald reports:

The Government was already reviewing the drink-drive limit, and research which measured the number of injuries and deaths caused by drivers with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 50mg to 80mg has just been completed.

Acting Transport Minister Michael Woodhouse’s office said Government would wait for the results of the two-year study before it decided whether lower limits were needed. If Cabinet backed it, Government was likely to introduce its own legislation.

There is a lot of science on this issue – at the Science Media Centre, we did a briefing for journalists in 2010 looking at the biological aspects of alcohol absorption and evidence from other countries where the blood alcohol limit sits at 5o micrograms per 100ml of blood.

The scientists also came up with this infographic which shows the impact of a reduction in the blood alcohol limit as proposed by Labour…

Screen Shot 2013-09-27 at 10.35.05 AM




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