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Report calls for lower drink-drive limit
An independent review has recommended that ministers cut the drink-drive limit drastically.
The report, by legal scholar Sir Peter North, calls for the limit to be slashed from the current 80 milligrams (mg) of alcohol in 100 millilitres (ml) of blood, to 50 mg. Such a level could see the average-sized man over the limit after drinking less than a pint of beer.
According to the report - which bases its estimates on new research by the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) - hundreds of lives could be saved annually by introducing the reduced limit. In the first year alone, it claims, road deaths could be reduced by 7%.
Meanwhile, the report also recommends keeping in place the mandatory 12-month ban for those convicted of drink-driving.
Commissioned by the previous Labour government, the review is the first major re-examination of the limit since 1976. It follows calls by the Scottish Government earlier this year for powers to set the country's own drink-drive limit at 50mg per 100ml - a level which is common throughout many European countries.
Sir Peter said that a driver with a blood alcohol level of between 50mg and the current 80mg is six times more likely to die in a road death than a non-drinking driver.
"I not only believe that it is right to reduce the limit, but that the public is ready for a lower limit," he added.
"It is time to give them what they want.
"Surveys also tell us that the public is in favour of lengthy bans for drink drivers, and witnesses have told me that the current ban is the major deterrent to drink-driving."
Sir Peter also addressed the issue of drug-driving which, while illegal if it renders a driver 'unfit', currently has no specific legal limits. He recommended that any new offence should "focus on establishing levels of drugs in the blood at which significant impairment - and therefore, risk to public safety - can be reasonably assumed, as is the case now for drink-driving."
In February, road safety charity Brake called for the creation of a specific drug-driving offence, pointing to "shockingly low" conviction rates that it claimed derived from the lack of a "simple statistical fact" such as the drink-drive limit.
Responding to the report, Transport Secretary Philip Hammond said that the Government needs to "carefully consider" the issues it raises.
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