South Scotland

Scotland-England drink-drive difference highlighted

Breath test Image copyright PA
Image caption The drink-drive limit will be reduced in Scotland from Friday onwards

The Scottish justice secretary is visiting Dumfries and Galloway and Cumbria to highlight the new drink-driving limit north of the border.

The legal level in Scotland will be reduced from 80mg to 50mg in every 100ml of blood on Friday.

The Scottish Parliament voted unanimously in favour of the new law on 18 November.

Michael Matheson will visit Carlisle and Lockerbie to help raise awareness of the imminent change.

It could mean motorists crossing from Cumbria and Northumberland into Dumfries and Galloway or the Scottish Borders would find they were committing an offence despite setting off under the English limit.

Mr Matheson said the new limit will make Scotland's roads safer and save lives.

"This will bring Scotland into line with most of Europe," he said.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Michael Matheson was in Carlisle and Lockerbie to highlight the change

"The evidence from the Republic of Ireland which has brought in the same lower limit suggests we will see convictions go down, reductions in drink driving and lower blood alcohol counts.

"We are leading the way across the UK - the new limit has backing from experts, road safety campaigners and the majority of the public north and south of the border.

"When it comes to drinking and driving our advice is simple, it's just not worth it. Don't put lives at risk, the best approach is to have no alcohol at all."

A mobile electronic road sign informing drivers of the new lower limit will be located at Carlisle Fire Station and Lockerbie Police Station.

Signs are already displaying the message on roads between England and Scotland as part of a public information campaign.

TV adverts have also targeted both sides of the border in order to highlight the change.

Last week the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) published research suggesting that 68% of people would like the Scottish drink-drive limit introduced across England and Wales.

Police Scotland ACC Bernard Higgins said they fully support the Scottish government's decision to lower the limit and described the move as a "significant step" towards improving safety on Scotland's roads.

He added: "Police Scotland will continue to work closely with our partners to ensure drivers understand the risk they pose to themselves and others if they drink, or take drugs, and drive."

Michael McDonnell, the director of Road Safety Scotland, said: "It's almost 50 years since the current limit was introduced and that we still lose an average of 20 lives a year in Scotland is a disgrace. Evidence from across the world demonstrates that the best results in tackling drink-driving are achieved by lowering the limit, or increasing enforcement, or both.

"We know, too, that a combination of high-profile enforcement, coupled with a heavyweight media campaign is the most efficient use of resources, and we are working closely with Police Scotland and other partners to ensure that people know about the change to the limit and have no excuse."

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