Fitzpatrick Blood Alcohol Comments

According to The Times, road safety minister Jim Fitzpatrick has indicated that the government will not propose a lower blood alcohol limit in the forthcoming public consultation on drink-driving.

Instead, he takes the ABD position, based on sound science, that drivers with a blood alcohol content (BAC) above 100mg are the problem and that cutting the limit to 50mg is likely to be counterproductive. ABD spokesman Nigel Humphries said, "This is excellent news. The 80mg limit was chosen correctly in the 1960s because 80-90mg accurately marks the point where accident risk begins to increase. There is simply no point in criminalising drivers who have a blood alcohol content that isn't dangerous. The fact that other EU countries have lower BAC limits based on flawed thinking shouldn't force the UK government to make the same mistake."Anti-driver groups try to claim that BAC levels of 10 to 80mg are 'associated' with 200-300 road deaths per year, but previous Government consultations have shown that drivers in the 50-80mg range are not overrepresented in either deaths or serious injuries. The 80mg limit introduced in 1967 was selected on the basis of the only piece of large scale scientific research on the subject, the Grand Rapids (Borkenstein) study, which compared the blood alcohol levels of over 5500 drivers involved in accidents with a control group of similar size selected from passing drivers at the time.Humphries concludes, "The chemical formula of alcohol hasn't changed, nor has the human body so the 80mg limit is as valid now as it was in 1967. Successful law is law that commands respect. The current limit has huge respect from the majority of drivers who stay well clear of it. An unscientifically set limit would destroy that respect, just as has happened with speed limits. The government should be congratulated on making such a sound decision."The ABD's advice for combatting drink driving remains the same - the spread of penalties must increase, with more serious sanctions for those caught with very high BAC levels and better education on the residual "morning after" issue to avoid ordinary drivers being unwittingly caught out.

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