Letter: No change to drink-driving limit

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The Independent Online
No change to drink-driving limit

Sir: Your front page and leader (8 August) on drinking and driving accused me of seeking "excuses" for not lowering the legal blood alcohol limit. Whatever else, "excuses" are not my style.

Like you, I am concerned that the massive reduction in drink-related fatalities over the last decade now seems to have bottomed out. I agree that every life lost is an avoidable tragedy. You are right that complete abstinence is the only sensible policy and it is the message we constantly conveyed. You are right too, that habits have indeed changed - largely, I would argue, because of the sustained media campaign over the past 10 years that has proved extraordinarily effective.

But it is precisely that overwhelming public support that could be forfeited if government were seen to be going beyond what the public perceive as reasonable. It is not the legal blood alcohol limit that saves lives. As you yourselves point out, many countries in Europe have lower limits and tougher penalties, yet none has a better record on alcohol-related road death. It is the acceptance of the underlying message that has changed our habits, not the legal limits or penalties, and it is that which I believe would be at risk if the Association of Chief Police Officers, the British Medical Association or any other no doubt well-intentioned body disturbs the present consensus.

There may be a time when it will be right to introduce a lower limit, but that time is not now.


(Epping Forest, Con)

House of Commons

London SW1