A zero tolerance drink drive limit for the UK

In the UK, the battle against drink drivers is still raging. About one in six road deaths are caused by drink drivers[2]. In 2009, there were seven deaths and 28 serious injuries every week caused by drink drivers. More deaths, estimated at 65 a year, are caused by drivers between 50mg/100ml and 80mg/100ml)[3].

Surveys suggest that there is widespread ignorance about the effects of even small amounts of alcohol, how long those effects last, and what's safe and what's not. Many drivers wrongly believe that 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 judgement - and therefore your ability to drive safely.[4]

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 blood [5], but some countries such as Sweden and Poland have a limit of 20mg/100ml blood - effectively a zero tolerance approach.

Brake is calling for a zero tolerance approach in the UK. We want our limit reduced to 20mg/100ml blood, to send a clear message to drivers that it’s none for the road. At the same time, we want police enforcement to be stepped up, so the threat of being caught is greater, and awareness campaigns to address confusion about drink driving. Evidence suggests that these measures would help to stamp out the menace of drink driving.

Take action

Email politicians for a lower drink drive limit for the UK

Read more

Drink drive tragedies
Facts about drink driving
Facts about alcohol content in drinks
Enforcement of drink and drug driving

Campaign news

'Morning after' drink-driving on the rise, finds research by Brake and Direct Line, 14.12.10
Transport Select Committee publishes recommendations on tackling drink and drug driving, 02.12.10
Drink drive Christmas advertising slashed - Brake reaction, 01.12.10
Brake's 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 drink-drive review report 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 driving by Sir Peter North announced by Government, Brake reaction, and terms of reference, 03.12.09
Brake CE Mary Williams OBE comment on the devastation caused by drink and drug drivers and the necessary 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, 23-24.11.09
Brake response to Northern Ireland Department of the Environment consultation on the drink drive limit, 31.07.09
Northern Ireland Department of the Environment consultation on the drink drive limit, closes 31.07.09
Brake response to Department for Transport consultation on road safety compliance, 28.02.09
Department for Transport consultation on road safety compliance, including the drink-drive limit, closes 28.02.09
Brake holds conference on drink and drug driving, 12.05.05


[1]: European Commission recommendation on the maximum permitted blood alcohol content (BAC) for drivers of motorised vehicles 2001/115/EC (EC, 2001)
[2]: Provisional figures from ‘Drinking and Driving Statistics’, Reported Road Casualties Great Britain: 2008 (Department for Transport, 2009)
[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]: Alcohol Consumption Impairs Detection of Performance Errors in Mediofrontal Cortex, K. Richard Ridderinkhof et al, Science, 2002