RAC Cars News


Government Getting Tougher On Drink Driving Regulations

By raccars Published

From now on the process by which those convicted of drink driving offences get their licences back is going to be more strict. Current regulations allow those convicted of drink driving offences to resume driving at the time they re-apply for their licences, but new plans mean drivers will have to pass a medical to confirm they are not 'alcohol dependent,' before getting back behind the wheel.

The shake up is targeted at those drivers classed as high-risk, due to the frequency and seriousness of their offences. Last year 50,000 drivers were banned from the roads as a result of drink driving offences, but 22,000 of those were regular offenders or displayed blood alcohol levels of more than 2.5 times the legal limit. The government considers some of these drivers to have a continuing problem with alcohol that puts other drivers and road users at serious risk and it is hoping medical checks will help to weed them out.

While such high-risk offenders are currently obliged to undergo a medical examination to confirm they are fit to drive, before their driving licences are re-issued, they are permitted to drive from the point of applying for the licence, before the medical has been carried out. Last year, 1,400 disqualified drivers failed and 3,600 either delayed or neglected to show up at all for their medical. Under the new plans, drivers will need to pass the medical examination to confirm they are not alcohol dependent, before re-applying for their licences.

At the same time as closing the medical examination loophole, another change in the law means drivers who refuse to allow a blood sample analysis will also be subject to immediate high-risk offender status. At the moment, drivers who refuse to give a blood sample receive the high-risk status automatically. Police are permitted to take samples from drivers who are too inebriated to consent but the same samples cannot be sent for analysis, unless the driver gives specific consent. The same high-risk offender status has not in the past been given automatically to those who do not consent to sample analysis, but this will change under the new regulations, meaning they, too, will be subject to a medical before getting their driving licences back.

Drivers' alcohol levels are usually measured in three ways: a breath test for which the current legal limit is 87.5 micrograms of alcohol per 100 millilitres measured, 200 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood or 267.5 milligrams of alcohol for every 100 millilitres of a urine test.

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