One for the road? Not in Scotland as Alex Salmond cuts drink-drive limit

SNP leader reveals new plans to introduce tougher laws more in line with rest of Europe

Scotland is to diverge dramatically from the rest of the United Kingdom by introducing the toughest drink-drive laws in the country, ministers will announce later today.

Under the new plans, anyone caught driving in Scotland after even a half pint of beer could face prosecution, conviction and the loss of a driving licence.

Scottish ministers want to split with the rest of the UK and bring Scotland into line with mainland Europe, where drink-drive laws are generally much tougher than they are in Britain.

Indeed, only the UK and Malta have a drink-drive limit as high as 80mg per 100ml of blood – equivalent to about a pint of beer.

All the other EU countries have limits of, at most, 50mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood and some are even tougher with zero limits, particularly for new motorists and heavy goods vehicle drivers.

Scottish ministers have admitted privately that it suits the Scottish National Party (SNP) government's separatist agenda to ally Scotland more with Europe than with the rest of Britain.

They know that if there is a noticeable difference in something like the drink-drive laws between Scotland and England, then it can only increase the sense of general difference between the countries and stretch the bonds between them still further.

But ministers are also aware of the need to crack down on Scotland's appalling record with alcohol. Despite a slight fall this year, Scots still drink, on average, about 20 per cent more than those in the rest of the UK.

The SNP administration has already announced plans to introduce a minimum price for alcohol in an effort to curb binge drinking and the new drink-drive limit is part of this assault on Scotland's destructive relationship with booze.

Significantly though, the Scottish government has only had the power to change the drink-drive limits for a few months – it was handed over earlier this year as part of the Scotland Act.

Holyrood observers believe it is no surprise that the SNP government has decided to move so quickly on something that will reinforce the differences between Scotland and the rest of the UK so clearly.

Kenny MacAskill, the Scottish Justice Secretary, will unveil his proposals to reduce the drink-drive limit in Scotland by more than a third later today. A spokesman for Mr MacAskill said: "All the evidence shows that alcohol-related road deaths drop dramatically where the limit has been reduced to more accurately reflect when the effects of drinking impairs driving.

"The current limit just leaves too much room for confusion and sadly we are still seeing hundreds of drivers each year ignore the warnings and putting lives at risk through drinking and driving; it is reckless and totally unacceptable.

"The consequences can be devastating for victims and their families – our proposed changes will mean that drink drivers are left with no excuses."

A total of 16 European countries – including Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands, France and Germany – have 50mg limits.

A few, including Romania and Slovakia, have zero limits while others, like Slovenia and Italy, have small limits for ordinary drivers and zero limits for newly qualified motorists.

The move has already been welcomed by anti-drink-drive campaigners. Brake, the road-safety charity, said it was a good move and urged the UK Government to follow the Scottish government's lead while the Campaign against Drinking and Driving said a 50mg limit was a start on the way to lowering the limit still further.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
peopleJonathan Ross has got a left-field suggestion to replace Clarkson
Sport
Lewis Hamilton secured his second straight pole of the season
f1Vettel beats Rosberg into third after thunderstorm delays qualifying
Arts and Entertainment
The teaser trailer has provoked more questions than answers
filmBut what is Bond's 'secret' that Moneypenny is talking about?
Sport
football This was Kane’s night, even if he played just a small part of it
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Travel
travel Dreamland Margate, Britain’s oldest amusement park, is set to reopen
News
news
News
Founders James Brown and Tim Southwell with a mock-up of the first ever ‘Loaded’ magazine in 1994
media
News
Threlfall says: 'I am a guardian of the reality keys. I think I drive directors nuts'
people
Voices
voices The group has just unveiled a billion dollar plan to help nurse the British countryside back to health
News
The Westgate, a gay pub in the centre of Gloucester which played host to drag queens, has closed
news
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped commission: SThree: Does earning a 6 figu...

Recruitment Genius: SEO Executive

£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: New Lift Sales Executive - Lift and Elevators

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A challenging opportunity for a...

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss