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Drink driving – Good for safety and for business?

Written by: Alan Baker 19th May, 2015

There have been two bits of interesting news regarding drink driving in the last few days and weeks.

The first is a change in legislation:

“Section 8(1) of the Road Traffic Act 1988 (the “RTA”) provides that out of the two specimens of breath provided, it is the one with the lower proportion of alcohol in the breath that is used (the other being disregarded). Section 8(2) of the RTA provides that if the lower specimen of breath has a reading of no more than 50mcg/100 ml of breath, then that person has the right to elect to have that specimen replaced with a blood or urine specimen. If that person then provides such a specimen, neither specimen of breath is used. It is this right to have the breath reading replaced with either a blood or urine test that is commonly known as “the statutory option.”

And so, after 40 years of giving people the option of providing a sample of blood or urine if they blow under 50, the law has now changed and will now mean that many hundreds and perhaps thousands of motorists will find themselves facing prosecution. It was perceived that the previous system meant that those individuals who blew, say, in the high 40’s  would then provide a blood or urine sample below the statutory limit given the time that almost certainly would have elapsed between the breath test and the provision of a blood or urine sample (time taken to usually mobilise a medical professional).

What are the consequences of this? Given that individuals continue to drink and drive I feel that it is inevitable that those people who now face prosecution will continue to look for reasons for their sample being above the limit and it may be that there is an increase in those looking at defences of laced drinking, post-incident consumption or the effects of medication or illness..

The second bit of news is the suggestion (again) that the drink driving limit in blood (and I’m guessing breath!) should be reduced from 80 to 50mg%. Again this has to be seen in light of increased road traffic safety and it may be that the consequence to those in the legal profession is more business given that more people will be seeking to look at reasons for their reading being above the limit.


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