The drink-drive limit is set to be cut in Scotland just before Christmas, meaning motorists who have a pint of beer or glass or wine could be breaking the law.
The move would bring Scotland in line with much of Europe, but put it at odds with the rest of the United Kingdom. The Department of Transport said it had no plans to lower the limit in England.
Kenny MacAskill, the Scottish Justice Secretary, outlined moves to reduce the legal blood alcohol limit from 80mg in every 100ml of blood, which applies across the UK, to 50mg in every 100ml.
If the plan is approved by the Holyrood Parliament, the revised limit would come into force north of the border on 5 December, and would be backed by a public awareness campaign urging drivers not to drink at all.
The move would in practice put drivers over the limit if they drink a glass of wine or a pint of beer before getting in their car.
Mr MacAskill told BBC Scotland his plans were widely backed. He said: "The support comes not just from the police and law enforcement. It comes from those involved in road safety.”
Asked why he had not opted for a zero-tolerance approach, Mr MacAskill said: “There are reasons why individuals may have alcohol in their system. It is also quite clear at the 50 [mg] limit, that is when impairment begins to kick in."
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents welcomed the move, and called for the rest of the UK to follow suit.
But Robert Goodwill, the Road Safety Minister, said: "We have no plans to alter the drink drive limit.”
He added: “Tackling drink driving is a priority for this Government. We are strengthening enforcement by removing the automatic right for drivers who fail a breathalyser test to demand a blood test and also introducing mobile evidential breath testing equipment next year.
“High risk offenders are now also required to prove they are no longer alcohol-dependent before being allowed to drive. We have no plans to alter the drink drive limit.”
The limit in Northern Ireland could also be reduced to 50mg as part of proposals included in the Road Traffic (Amendment) Bill.
The measure is being considered by the Northern Ireland Assembly and could become law next year.Reuse content