The Scottish Parliament has said that they are prepared to lower the current drink driving limits in a bid to reduce accidents and casualties caused by drivers that have consumed too much alcohol. The new limits would mean that a single pint, and even a single glass of wine in some cases, would put a typical person over the limit. It would also mean that Scotland and the rest of the UK would have different limits, potentially making it more difficult to police.
The amount that a person can drink and still legally drive is not determined by the amount of alcohol consumer. Many factors, including whether a person has eaten, the amount of time that has passed since having a drink, and the metabolism of a person will determine whether they are over the limit or not. Breath tests, urine tests, and blood tests are used to determine the actual level of alcohol that is present in the body.
Under current laws, Scotland has the same limits as the rest of the UK. In terms of a breathalyser test, if a reading over 35mcg of alcohol in 100ml of breath is achieved then the driver is required to submit to a blood or urine sample, also referred to as an evidentiary alcohol test because the results of this test can be used in evidence during prosecution of drink driving crimes.
Under the new proposals, drivers in Scotland would see the limit drop from 35mcg of alcohol per 100ml of breath to 22mg. The level allowed in the blood would drop from 80mg per 100ml to 50mg per 100ml, and the urine limit would drop from 107mg to 67mg per 100ml of urine. These are similar limits to those found in Spain and Germany, but would be lower than in the rest of the UK so a driver that crosses the border may be legally allowed to drive in the UK but not once they pass into Scotland.
Drink driving is considered one of the most serious driving offences, and it carries suitably severe punishments and penalties. Those found guilty will receive a driving ban and fine, and if the driver has caused an accident or injury then there is a good chance of a prison sentence also being handed down.