Drink-drive suspects will lose automatic right to demand blood test

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Drink-drive suspects will lose automatic right to demand blood test

Motorists narrowly failing a drink-drive breathalyser test will no longer have an automatic right to demand a further blood or urine test.

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 is known as the 'statutory option' and dates back to the original introduction of breathalyser technology when there were concerns over reliability.

But technology is far more accurate now and ministers believe that there is no need for further test so a Deregulation Bill is due to be passed that removes this automatic right.

Ministers believe many drivers "buy time" to sober up by asking for a sample to be taken by a doctor and the introduction of this Bill will close a 'legal loophole' that currently allows drivers to do so.

The Bill will also remove the need for police to carry out one test at the roadside and another at a police station as new, evidential breath test devices are due to receive final approval from the Home Office.

Road safety minister Stephen Hammond said: "We have made great progress in tackling drink driving but last year 280 people died in accidents where the driver was over the limit and we are determined to tackle this irresponsible minority."

Mr Hammond added: "These common sense measures reflect advances in equipment used by the police and will make our roads safer by ensuring drink drivers are taken off the road."

Mr Hammond also revealed that 25 per cent of drink-drive suspects who opted for a blood test at police station where there is no on-hand doctor managed to get off. Overall some 1 in 12 (8 per cent) of those arrested for drink-driving currently opt for a second chance blood test.