Tough new measures to tackle drink drivers

Drink driving consultations
A raft of tough measures to crack down on drink drivers has been unveiled today by Road Safety Minister Stephen Hammond.

Included in the proposals are plans to remove the statutory right to a replacement blood or urine test where a breath test reading is above and close to the legal limit, closing the loophole which allows those testing positive in breath to sober up while they wait for a blood or urine sample to be taken.

The Government also intends to legislate to allow police the option not to perform a preliminary breath test where roadside evidential breath tests are carried out.

Registered health care professionals could also receive greater roles in testing drink drivers.

Stephen Hammond said: "We have made great progress in tackling drink drivers and the 2011 fatality figure for drink and drive accidents is the second lowest ever recorded.

"However, last year 280 people died ruining the lives of families up and down the country so more needs to be done to eradicate this menace. That is why we are taking forward a package of measures to streamline enforcement against drink driving."

Currently, drivers who record less than 50 microgrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath have the right to demand a blood or urine test - despite being over the legal limit of 35 microgrammes per 100 millilitres. This could be changed thanks to more accurate testing technology.

Other proposals within the plans include commissioning further research into the current process used to decide whether a driver banned due to drink driving can regain their licence, and
further exploration of how greater use can be made of vehicle forfeiture powers to get the most dangerous and irresponsible motorists off the road, including drink drivers.

The Institute of Advance Motorists' Neil Greig said: "These proposals are very welcome but must be accompanied by higher-profile drink-driving campaigns, and not just at Christmas.

"Drivers need to know about the devastating consequences of drink-driving and drink-drivers need to know that they will be caught and punished."
The consultation period runs until January 2, 2013.