English Police Renew Calls to Lower Drink Driving Limit

Late last year, Scotland dropped its allowable level for drink driving to the equivalent of 0.05 BAC in the U.S., bringing Scotland’s drink driving standards in line with those in most other European countries.


Now, the Police Federation of England and Wales has echoed calls by officials and health leaders to follow Scotland’s lead. One of the driving factors behind the Police Federation’s position is recent research that shows British women are drinking more and seem to be less influenced by anti-drink driving messages. Women now make up 17% of convictions for driving while intoxicated, compared to just 9% in 1998. In contrast, the drink driving rate for men fell by nearly half during the same period.

Issues related to alcohol misuse and abuse cost the U.K. billions of pounds each year, and the push to lower the drink driving limit is being seen as part of the country’s larger efforts to reduce alcohol-related crime. But critics of the move claim that lowering the BAC limit for driving will only penalize responsible drinkers and does not address the real problem: individuals who get dangerously intoxicated before getting behind the wheel.

If England and Wales change their drink driving standards, the U.S. will be one of the last Western nations to allow a higher BAC for drivers. In 2013, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) submitted a recommendation to lower the legal BAC limit in the U.S., but the proposal has not generated wide-spread support.

What do you think of efforts to lower the legal drinking limit for drivers?