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
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
Voices
Ed Miliband and David Cameron are neck and neck in the polls
election 2015Armando Iannucci: on how British politics is broken
News
i100
Life and Style
Great minds like Einstein don't think alike
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
health
News
science
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
News
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
people
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
News
A voter placing a ballot paper in the box at a polling station
i100
News
people
  • 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: IT Support Engineer - Leeds

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Support Engineer - Leeds This i...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Bristol

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment C...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment C...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power