Drink-driving limit must be reduced to save lives

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The British Medical Association in Wales is calling on the Government to reduce the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level for driving from 80mg to 50mg per 100ml. In 2003 - the latest year when figures are available - there were 582 drink-related road traffic casualties in Wales, 6 of whom died - 2 of whom were pedestrians and 4 were passengers.

In 2002 there were 6,500 positive breath tests. Rates vary little year on year.

Scientific evidence from around the world has agreed that once a person's alcohol level goes over 50mg their driving becomes impaired.

The Association would also like to see roadside random breath tests carried out. This measure is a vital element in deterring people from drinking and driving.

Welsh Secretary of the BMA, Dr Richard Lewis said: "The BMA believes that a further reduction in blood alcohol concentration levels will prevent deaths and reduce the number of lives ruined by drinking drivers. As a road accident doctor and a member of the British Association of Immediate Care (BASICS), I go to road accidents to provide advanced medical care with the emergency services, and I have seen at first hand the awful and devastating consequences of drink driving.

The BMA is not suggesting a zero limit because there will be cases where an individual would register slightly above zero even when they had not been drinking (diabetes and the use of mouthwash can both cause an above-zero level). The BMA doubts whether an absolute zero would be enforceable and acceptable to the public but argues that a 50mg level, which would bring the UK into line with many other European countries, would be effective and beneficial.

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