Zero tolerance on drink driving

About one in six road deaths are caused by drink-drivers over the limit [1]. In 2009, drink-drivers were responsible for seven deaths and 28 serious injuries every week [2]. More deaths, estimated at 65 a year, are caused by drivers who are under the limit but with significant amounts of alcohol in the blood [3].

Surveys reveal widespread ignorance about the effects of even small amounts of alcohol and how long they last [4]. Many wrongly believe it's safe to have one or two drinks before driving, when research shows that even one small drink has a significant effect on reaction times and your ability to drive safely.[5]

The UK’s drink drive limit is a shockingly high 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood, the highest in Europe, no doubt contributing to the myth that one or two drinks is fine for the road. The EC recommends a maximum of 50mg/100ml [6], but some countries have a limit of 20mg/100ml - effectively a zero tolerance approach.

Brake is calling for a zero tolerance approach in the UK. We want our limit reduced to 20mg/100ml, to send a clear message that it’s none for the road. We also want enforcement stepped up, through the Government making roads policing a national policing priority and giving police powers to carry out random breath tests. Awareness campaigns should be used to address confusion and warn about the threat of being caught. International evidence indicates these measures would help stamp out the menace of drink driving.

Read more about drink driving.

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Campaign news

Devolved government leads the way in tackling drink-drive carnage, 30.09.11
Northern Ireland announces drink drive limit reduction, 26.09.11
Brake reacts to breath testing data suggesting drink driving on the rise, 01.08.11
Brake reacts to Home Office annual breath testing data, 14.04.11
Government announces it will not lower drink drive limit, 21.03.11
Morning after drink driving on the rise, according to Brake and Direct Line survey, 14.12.10
Transport Select Committee publishes recommendations on tackling drink and drug driving, 02.12.10
Brake responds to the Transport Committee's inquiry on drink and drug driving, 27.08.10
North Report on drink and drug driving published, 16.06.10
Independent review of drink and drug driving submitted to Secretary of State by Sir Peter North, 21.05.10
Brake DCE Cathy Keeler meets Sir Peter North and independent drink drive review team, 18.02.10
Independent review of drink and drug driving by Sir Peter North announced by Government, 03.12.09
Brake CE Mary Williams OBE comment on the devastation caused by drink and drug drivers and solutions to it, 23.11.09
Road Safety Week survey shows more than one in four young people admit to being a drink or drug driver or a passenger with one, 23.11.09
Brake calls on drivers to drive sober, and Government to take urgent action in Road Safety Week 'Not a Drop; Not a Drag' campaign, 23.11.09
Brake response to Department for Transport consultation on road safety compliance, 28.02.09
Department for Transport consultation on road safety compliance, including drug driving, closes 28.02.09
Brake holds conference on drink and drug driving, 12.05.05


[1] Road Casualties Great Britain 2009, Department for Transport 2010
[2] Road Casualties Great Britain 2009, Department for Transport 2010
[3] Reducing the BAC limit to 50mg – what can we expect to gain?, Professor Richard E Allsop, Centre for Transport Studies University College London (PACTS, 2005)
[4] Brake and Direct Line Report on Safe Driving: Fit to Drive, Brake 2010 
[5] Alcohol Consumption Impairs Detection of Performance Errors in Mediofrontal Cortex, K. Richard Ridderinkhof et al, Science, 2002
[6] European Commission recommendation on the maximum permitted blood alcohol content (BAC) for drivers of motorised vehicles 2001/115/EC (EC, 2001

Tags: Drink-Drive road deaths alcohol