Our opinion on the legal world, and how it could affect you

Should the drink drive limit be reduced?

10th Feb 2016

The Government could consider lowering the drink-driving limit in England and Wales if a Scottish experiment proves successful.

The Scottish experiment

The limit was cut in Scotland from 80mg per 100ml of blood to 50mg by the Scottish Government in December 2014. This is equivalent to just under a pint of beer or a large glass of wine for the average man and half a pint of beer or small glass of wine for an average woman.

Road safety campaigners and doctors are now arguing that England and Wales should do the same based on the argument that their drink-driving limit is among the highest in Europe.

Government Ministers will assess how this change impacts on road safety in Scotland before considering bringing in changes for England & Wales.

The figures show that, in the nine months after the limit was lowered in Scotland, the number of drink-driving offences there fell 12.5 per cent from the same period the previous year. An RAC Foundation report last year suggested 25 lives could have been saved if England and Wales had adopted the lower limit. The reduction could have prevented a further 95 people a year being seriously injured.

The Government view seems to be that rigorous enforcement and serious penalties for drink-drivers are a more effective deterrent than changing the drink-driving limit.

.Frank Rogers - Head of the Driving Offence Team at Brown Turner Ross commented:

"The current limit for England & Wales is always under review and many people argue that the safest course of action is to have a zero tolerance threshold so that any level of alcohol would trigger a driving ban. In my view that seems harsh especially because of the time it takes for alcohol to be totally eliminated from the body.

This raises an issue I covered in an earlier Blog which should be considered at the same time as looking at this proposal.

When is it safe to drive?

The simple answer is that it varies from person to person and depends on a a number of factors including

  • your gender
  • your height & weight
  • what food you have eaten & when
  • what alcohol you have consumed & over what period
  • your individual metabolism: how slowly or quickly your body turns food into energy

On average it takes about one hour for the body to rid itself of each Unit of alcohol but it can take much longer. If you need to prove that, for example, alcohol consumed after you ceased driving was responsible for your failing the Breath Test (or that your drinks had been spiked) we would need to get a Forensic Report as the burden of proof shifts to you.

On top of the one hour per Unit you need to add an additional hour because that is roughly how long it takes for alcohol to be absorbed into your blood stream.

Rough Guide to Your Drinks

  • pint of beer or lager: 4% beers or lagers are 2-5 hour pints & each pint takes at least 2.5 hours to leave your blood stream from when you stop drinking
  • 330mls bottles of lager: these are roughly 2 hour bottles
  • spirits: no mixer makes any difference as the alcohol takes the same amount of time to leave your system whether it is mixed with ice or oramge juice - a 35ml shot is a 1.5 hour drink
  • glasses of wine: wine glass sizes now vary but a standard glass is now 250ml and if it is a 15% wine one glass is a 4 hour drink. Drink one bottle of 15% wine & you should not drive for 13 hours!


These are just rough guides & the best advice is to

  • not to drink at all if you know you are going to drive
  • know what you are drinking - avoid strange cocktails
  • if you are going to drink work out when you are next going to drive & do the Maths!

For more information visit or"

For free initial advice on any Driving Offence call Frank on 0800 195 7517