25/06/2010

Call For Lower Drink-Drive Limit

Local doctors are calling for the Stormont Executive to consider lowering the drink drive limit to "save lives".

Following this week's Daíl legislation reducing the legal blood-alcohol level from 80 to 50mg, Northern Ireland doctors said today that the law should be changed here too.

The British Medical Association (BMA) statement comes after the Republic of Ireland's move to cut the drink drive limit.

Fermanagh GP and member of the BMA's GP Committee Dr John Porteous said: "It has been estimated that there would be eight fewer deaths on our roads in Northern Ireland by lowering blood alcohol levels to 50mg from the current level of 80mg.

"We believe that this move will further deter those who think its 'OK' to have a drink then get behind the wheel.

"In reality, there is no such thing as a safe limit, and doctors across the province urge everyone not to drink and drive."

An acknowledged road safety campaigner, Dr Porteous continued: "Ensuring that the drink drive limit is the same north and south of the border will greatly assist in enforcing the 'Don't drink and Drive' message.
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"Environment Minister Edwin Poots has already undertaken a lot of work in terms of looking at the issues of drink driving - we urge him to take action now to lower the drink drive limit to make Northern Ireland's roads safer for all," the top doctor said.

The BMA pointed out that the recent North Report has already recommended that the drink drive limit in England should be reduced from 80mgs to 50 mgs - saving hundreds of lives in the process.

A statement from the BMA (NI) "strongly recommends the reduction of the maximum blood alcohol level for drivers from 80mgs to that of 50mgs".

It said: "The limit should be further reduced to 20mgs for novice and newly qualified drivers" and that, while Northern Ireland currently has penalties for drink driving offences which are amongst the most severe in Europe, "we recommend increased use of the available penalties, swiftness of punishment and additional resources allocated to enforce such penalties".

It has also urged the introduction and implementation of random roadside testing without the need for prior suspicion of intoxication.

See: Dáil Reduces Legal Limit

(BMcC/GK)

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