Drink drive bill completes passage through the House of Lords

5 May 2016: Members of the House of Lords today passed a bill which would reduce the drink driving limit and save up to 100 lives a year – but it is unlikely to become law in the near future despite being supported by over 70% of the general public.

The Alcohol Health Alliance welcomed the vote to progress Lord Brooke’s drink driving bill beyond third reading. The vote means that the bill, which would amend the Road Traffic Act to lower the legal drink drive limit from 80mg alcohol per 100ml blood to 50mg/100ml, has now successfully completed all stages in the House of Lords.

Unfortunately, with little time remaining before the end of the Parliamentary term, there will not now be a chance for the bill to be considered on the floor of the House of Commons.

Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, chair of the Alcohol Health Alliance, said:

We thank Lord Brooke for sponsoring this bill and for seeing its passage safely through the House of Lords. It is disappointing that there is no Parliamentary time for this bill to progress any further, but by championing this bill and making the evidence-based case for this change in the law, Lord Brooke has raised some very important issues, not least the fact that a reduction in the limit would save lives and prevent needless injury. We call on the government to now legislate to lower the drink drive limit.

Lord Brooke or Alverthorpe, who won the Parliamentarian of the Month award in February by road safety charity Brake and Direct Line Group for his work on the bill, said:

I welcome the support received from my Parliamentary colleagues in the Lords for this bill. Lowering the drink drive limit is consistently supported by the public, along with road traffic bodies, medical royal colleges and the emergency services, and all the evidence demonstrates that where the legal limit is lowered, deaths and casualties go down.

The only other country in Europe to have a drink drive limit as high as England and Wales is Malta, with every other European country setting the limit at 50mg or below. When Scotland lowered the limit, within the first nine months drink driving offences went down 12%, and Northern Ireland has just legislated to lower the limit. It can now only be a matter of time before the government takes notice of the evidence and levels of support for a lower legal limit, and legislates to lower the limit in England and Wales.


Statistics on drink driving

  • England and Wales have the highest drink drive limit in Europe, with the exception of Malta
  • Drivers with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) over 80mg/100ml blood (the current limit) are 11 times more likely to die in a road traffic accident than those who have drunk no alcohol
  • In 2015 the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) urged the UK government to prioritise action on drink driving
  • The latest confirmed figures show that in 2013 there were 240 deaths and 8,270 injuries in Britain in road traffic collisions involving a driver or rider over the legal drink-drive limit (80mg). This number has remained static since 2010. Initial estimates for 2014 indicate no change
  • A lower drink-drive limit would reinvigorate the message that drinking and driving is socially-unacceptable, as has happened in Scotland
  • Better education and enforcement are also essential parts of the solution to deter and detect drivers who drink above the legal limits. Cuts to roads police numbers and reductions in roadside breath-testing make this more difficult
  • A 2015 survey found one third of drivers who drink regularly drive whilst over the limit