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UK Government announces new measures to combat drink and drug driving

UK Transport Secretary, Philip Hammond, has announced a package of measures to tackle drink and drug driving, including the introduction of improved testing equipment to detect drink and drug drivers and key changes made to streamline enforcement of both offenses. The measures are set out in the Government’s response to the North Report on Drink and Drug Driving, which was published last year. The Government will also examine the case for a new specific drug driving offense, alongside the existing one, which would remove the need for the police to prove impairment on a case-by-case basis, where a specified drug has been detected. The prescribed alcohol limit for driving will not be changed, with the focus instead on improving enforcement and education.

Hammond said, “Drink and drug driving are serious offenses and we are determined to ensure they are detected and punished effectively. It is just as dangerous to drive impaired by drugs as alcohol, so we need to send a clear message that drug drivers are as likely to be caught as drink drivers and that drug driving is as socially unacceptable as drink driving has become. That is why we will approve drug-testing devices and change the law to speed up the testing process, ensuring the police can bring drug drivers to justice. The number of drink driving deaths has fallen by more than 75% since 1979. But drink driving still kills hundreds of people; so we need to take tough action against the small minority of drivers who flagrantly ignore the limit. Their behavior is entrenched and after careful consideration we have concluded that improving enforcement is likely to have more impact on these dangerous people than lowering the limit.”

Hammond continued, “We are therefore taking forward a package of measures which will streamline enforcement, helping the police to target these most dangerous offenders and protect law-abiding road users.” The Government will: revoke the right for people whose evidential breath test result is less than 40% over the limit to opt for a blood test; introduce a more robust drink drive rehabilitation scheme; approve portable evidential breath testing equipment for the police and preliminary drug-testing equipment; streamline the procedure for testing drink and drug drivers in hospital; and close a loophole used by high risk offenders to delay their medical examinations. The UK breath alcohol limit is 35 microgrammes per 100 millitres of breath and the blood alcohol limit is 80 milligrammes per 100 millilitres of blood. In 2008, 81,000 people were convicted of drink driving offenses in England and Wales.


 

March 22, 2011

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