RAC Cars News


English Drivers Could Be Caught Unaware By New Scotland Alcohol Limit

By raccars Published

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This week, Scotland has lowered its legal blood alcohol threshold, from 80mg per 100ml, the same as in England, to 50mg per 100ml. Motoring groups are concerned that English drivers unknowingly straying over the border could find themselves subject to drink driving charges.

The Scotland-England border winds through Cumbria and Northumberland and those travelling in the Carlisle, Berwick or Kielder Forest areas could easily find themselves unwittingly crossing into Scottish territory. The road rises from Gretna in the west, just above Carlisle, to Berwick in the east and meanders through both countries, with no signage to indicate where border lines occur. Should English drivers be caught breaking the Scottish drink driving limit they face a driving ban, a penalty fine up to £5,000 and, potentially, six months' imprisonment.

As part of the new powers of devolution enjoyed by the Scottish Parliament, the new blood alcohol limit has been implemented at some speed, to be effective by this year's Christmas season, a traditional flashpoint for drink driving incidents. At the same time, a motion was agreed to start a new media campaign focusing on the 'morning after' effect, for those who have been drinking the night before.

At 50mg per 100ml of blood, Scotland is now in line with most of Continental Europe, with the rest of the UK remaining slightly more lenient, at 80mg per 100ml. The RAC and other motoring organisations are concerned that the different limits could cause confusion for drivers in the border area. The current 80mg per 100ml blood alcohol threshold was introduced nearly 50 years ago and a recent study showed that more than three in four Scots approved of reducing it in order to improve safety on Scottish roads. Twenty six per cent of Scots polled even thought the limit should be lower still. Ninety four per cent of Scottish drivers are aware of the change in law but only 58% of those living South of the border were aware of the situation. The Scottish Government has planned a substantial awareness campaign to make sure the message is clear.

The annual death toll on Scottish roads is about 20, with another 90 people seriously injured on roads north of the border last year. A further 340 people suffered less serious injuries. Road Safety Scotland has commented that lowering blood alcohol limits and higher levels of enforcement have proven successful at tackling drink driving elsewhere in the world.

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