Castle breath test plea

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Baroness Castle, who as Labour transport minister in the years 1965-8 introduced the breathalyser and the seat belt to Britain, has called on the Government to cut the drink-drive limit and allow random tests, writes Ian Burrell.

Speaking ahead of the 30th anniversary of the introduction of the breath test next week, Baroness Castle, 87 tomorrow, said the Government should never relent in "reinforcing the sense of caution".

The introduction of a new 50 milligrams of alcohol per 100 milliltres of blood limit, the equivalent of two glasses of wine, is likely. Britain, which has an 80mg limit, is under pressure from Brussels to agree to a Europe-wide limit of 50mg.

The baroness recalled strong opposition to her reforms: "There was an intense feeling of resentment among men. Cars seem to bring out the macho in them; they see it as a virility symbol.

"My department, when they introduced the breathalyser, thought they might save about 200 lives. When it came to it we had saved 1,200 lives."