Vera Baird DBE KC

Writer, Lecturer, Parliamentary Consultant and Co-Director of Astraea: Gender Justice

Backing lower drink drive limit

PCC Vera Baird QC backs lower drink drive limit

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Vera Baird QC, is once again urging the Government to lower the national drink drive limit from 80mg to 50mg.

Her calls for more action to save lives and improve road safety come following the release of figures by the Institute of Alcohol Studies (IAS) earlier this week, which reveal there are 240 deaths and 8,000 casualties as a result of drink driving every year. There has been no reduction in the number of fatalities since 2010.

It is not only drunk drivers who are affected: 60% of those killed or injured in drink driving incidents are people other than the driver, such as passengers, pedestrians and cyclists.

England and Wales have one of the highest drink drive limits in Europe, matched only by Malta, who recently announced that they will also be dropping their limit to 50gm. Scotland reduced its limit in 2014, and a new 50gm limit will come into effect in Northern Ireland this coming January.

When Scotland lowered the drink driving limit, offences went down by 17% in the first three months alone.

The Commissioner is joining the IAS along with a coalition of emergency services, road safety charities and health experts who are all calling for MPs to lower the limit.

It is estimated that lowering the limit would also save £300 million annually, by reducing the cost to the police and ambulance services and cutting hospital admissions.

Vera Baird QC, who is also Chair of the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners, said: “According to the IAS, reducing the limit to 50mg will save at least 25 lives per year. These figures speak for themselves and it’s about time the Government listened to them. If we can get this into law now, we know that many lives will be saved in the weeks, months and years ahead. I will continue campaigning and supporting the work of the IAS along with my fellow PCCs until the right thing is done.”

Katherine Brown, Director at the Institute of Alcohol Studies, said: “Recent decades have seen great improvements in road safety, but progress on drink driving has ground to a halt. With hundreds of lives lost each year, we can’t afford to let England and Wales fall behind our neighbours in road safety standards.”



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