Lower alcohol limit - good thing?

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Ben@Forest
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Lower alcohol limit - good thing?

Postby Ben@Forest » 5 Dec 2014, 1:09pm

Today Scotland went down to a maximum of 0.5mg of alcohol per litre in your blood, compared to 0.8mg/l in the rUK for being over the limit when driving. On the radio there seemed to be a certain consensus that this was a 'good thing'; partly because 0.5mg/l is the limit in many other European countries.

However many other European countries do not enforce such stringent penalties as the UK if you are caught drink-driving at the lower end of the scale. For example in France if you are caught with between 0.5 and 0.8mg/l blood you will be only be fined - and it could be as low as 135€ and lose six points on your licence (which is the same as gaining six points on your licence in the UK).

So in Scotland you presumably will still get a minimum 12-month ban and a considerable fine for being at 0.55mg/l although this is not necessarily like the European model at all. And if the Scots did treat 'low' offenders like the French do wouldn't it just start a mindset that not being 'too drunk' isn't really that serious? Personally I'd prefer the bar to be set higher and the penalties to be pretty stiff. A 12 to 18 month ban is far better than a fine.

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Mick F
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Re: Lower alcohol limit - good thing?

Postby Mick F » 5 Dec 2014, 1:35pm

Ben@Forest wrote: .......... Personally I'd prefer the bar to be set higher and the penalties to be pretty stiff. A 12 to 18 month ban is far better than a fine.
Yep.
I agree.
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661-Pete
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Re: Lower alcohol limit - good thing?

Postby 661-Pete » 5 Dec 2014, 2:30pm

I think it won't do anything for the (forturnately, dwindling) minority of idiots who drink themselves several times over the limit and are still bloody minded enough to get behind the wheel and damn the consequences. Clapping those specimens into gaol and throwing away the key is to only way that's going to stop them.

But I suppose there's still the mindset of those who think "I can have one pint, I'll still be below the limit" to deal with. Even with the present (England and Wales) limit, that's simply not true. A pint of strong beer contains about 2.5 to 3 units, plenty to get many people over the limit straight away. Maybe setting a lower limit is the right thing, just to say to these sort of people, enough is enough.

I'm only a very light and occasional drinker, and I have never in my life been breathalysed, so I can only speculate as to how much one unit (e.g. 250 ml of 4%abv beer) would measure in my blood alcohol level. Probably not enough to fail the breathalyser, but I'd certainly consider myself unfit to drive. Cycling would be a marginal decision.
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Psamathe
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Re: Lower alcohol limit - good thing?

Postby Psamathe » 5 Dec 2014, 2:37pm

Whilst I agree with the lower limits, it does illustrate the madness of the "UK" and devolved powers. You could have been to the pub, driving perfectly legally, take a wrong turn and suddenly you are breaking the law and could lose your license. Daft. We need consistent laws if we are a country. If we are not a country then we should have proper borders.

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Re: Lower alcohol limit - good thing?

Postby Mick F » 5 Dec 2014, 2:43pm

As soon as you drink, your body starts to metabolise the alcohol. Initially, nothing happens, but as the alcohol gets absorbed you start to feel the effects. This metabolism is slow whilst it's in the stomach, but fast as it reaches the colon. The liver processes the alcohol but most gets into your bloodstream before it does, and consequently affects the brain.

Meanwhile, the liver continues to process the alcohol in a continual basis, and providing you drink slowly enough, you don't get any "drunker". Basically, the alcohol in the brain isn't proportional to the absolute intake, but proportional to the intake plus/minus time.

I remember reading somewhere, that half a pint of normal beer per hour is about the limit you can process without measurable impairment - though this is dependent on body weight and age/sex.
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al_yrpal
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Re: Lower alcohol limit - good thing?

Postby al_yrpal » 5 Dec 2014, 3:06pm

One large pub measure of 14% wine will put you over the limit. It contains 250x0.14 cc of alcohol - 35 cc which is 3.5 units of alcohol. Many people havent a clue how to calculate this and I have seen a couple of my wifes friends jump into a car and drive off after a couple of these. They should be banned IMO.
A pint is roughly 600 cc, so a pint of 4.6% bitter is 2.6 units. Personally, I never have more than a pint and then only with food. I always go for a Becks blue which is alcohol free if I can. This change could save a lot of lives and serious injuries. I have no problem with it.

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Re: Lower alcohol limit - good thing?

Postby Paulatic » 5 Dec 2014, 3:07pm

Psamathe wrote:Whilst I agree with the lower limits, it does illustrate the madness of the "UK" and devolved powers. You could have been to the pub, driving perfectly legally, take a wrong turn and suddenly you are breaking the law and could lose your license. Daft. We need consistent laws if we are a country. If we are not a country then we should have proper borders.

Ian


Not wishing to resurrect the independence debate I do feel you should acknowledge the UK is made up of different countries. Whilst you believe devolved powers are "madness" a large proportion of those living in Scotland believe them to be worthwhile. Proportional Representation is working .

A large proportion are in favour of reduced drink driving levels. A shame Westminster government were not as in touch with the population then your hypothetical driver who can't find his way home from the pub, through drink maybe, risks loosing his licence in both countries.
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Psamathe
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Re: Lower alcohol limit - good thing?

Postby Psamathe » 5 Dec 2014, 3:18pm

Paulatic wrote:
Psamathe wrote:Whilst I agree with the lower limits, it does illustrate the madness of the "UK" and devolved powers. You could have been to the pub, driving perfectly legally, take a wrong turn and suddenly you are breaking the law and could lose your license. Daft. We need consistent laws if we are a country. If we are not a country then we should have proper borders.

Ian


Not wishing to resurrect the independence debate I do feel you should acknowledge the UK is made up of different countries. Whilst you believe devolved powers are "madness" a large proportion of those living in Scotland believe them to be worthwhile. Proportional Representation is working .

A large proportion are in favour of reduced drink driving levels. A shame Westminster government were not as in touch with the population then your hypothetical driver who can't find his way home from the pub, through drink maybe, risks loosing his licence in both countries.

I believe it is the "rUK" side that is "wrong" (in that politicians are not listening). If we are different countries fine then lets be different countries and have a proper border. If we are one country then lets have laws such that legal behaviour in one place does not accidentally become illegal behaviour should somebody inadvertently stray a short distance from their intended route.

My example was not of somebody that has had too much to drink and "can't find their way home" but somebody who is completely legal in the rUK and takes a wrong turn (is is not only people over the drink limit who take wrong turns).

I'm all in favour of lower drinking limits (personally I don't drink anything if I'm going to drive). But I think the "being consistent" aspect is important. And that the Scottish have done this probably means the traditional Westminster crowd will not because in their eyes they cannot be seen as being "driven" by the Scottish Parliament (given how Westminster have not yet grown-up enough to even behave like children).

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jan19
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Re: Lower alcohol limit - good thing?

Postby jan19 » 5 Dec 2014, 3:37pm

I always go for a Becks blue which is alcohol free if I can.


Yes, so do I but it isn't actually alcohol free. Very very low, yes but not free. You'd have to drink a large amount before you reached any type of limit, but I wish these beers would say "low" rather than "no" alcohol as I think you get a false sense of security. In the course of an evening you could theoretically reach the limit whilst still thinking you were ok to drive.

As an example, Sainsbury's Czech "alcohol-free" lager which I like better than the Becks Blue is 0.5 units per bottle.

Jan

Ben@Forest
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Re: Lower alcohol limit - good thing?

Postby Ben@Forest » 5 Dec 2014, 4:01pm

Paulatic wrote:
A large proportion are in favour of reduced drink driving levels. A shame Westminster government were not as in touch with the population then your hypothetical driver who can't find his way home from the pub, through drink maybe, risks loosing his licence in both countries.


But what would the large proportion say if Scottish courts start dishing out more lenient sentences because offenders were only just over the reduced limit? What if those who pleaded they'd only had two sherry trifles and need their car for charity work get no fine and a reduced ban - or no ban at all? It happens with motorists who speed, it may happen with motorists who are only just over a low limit. As I said in the original post some European countries have low limits but low penalties too for example since Ireland introduced lower limits the penalty is:

If the driver (any category, any vehicle) is tested at the 50mg limit and they are over the limit they will be issued an on the spot of fixed penalty notice, receive a fine of €200 and 3 penalty points.

Is that really better than a 12-month ban?

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Mick F
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Re: Lower alcohol limit - good thing?

Postby Mick F » 5 Dec 2014, 4:17pm

al_yrpal wrote:One large pub measure of 14% wine will put you over the limit.
Not necessarily.

Please reed wot eye rote.
'taint as simple as you make out.

One large pub measure of 14% wine could possibly take you an hour or more to drink if you take your time.
By the time you have drunk it - possibly with food - you body/liver will have processed some/almost all of it.
If you neck it, and have another, that's a different story entirely.
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Re: Lower alcohol limit - good thing?

Postby thirdcrank » 5 Dec 2014, 4:32pm

Ben@Forest wrote:.... And if the Scots did treat 'low' offenders like the French do ...


Bearing in mind that you have repeated this point, or a version of it further down, is there any suggestion that that's going to happen?

661-Pete wrote:I think it won't do anything for the (forturnately, dwindling) minority of idiots who drink themselves several times over the limit and are still bloody minded enough to get behind the wheel and damn the consequences. Clapping those specimens into gaol and throwing away the key is to only way that's going to stop them....


At the punishment rather than prevention level, one obvious (to me point) is that with a lower limit, anybody who is way over the limit will be further over a new lower limit. These cases ten to be viewed in terms of the driver being x milliwotnots over the legal limit or so many times over it. Fifty divides into a big number more time than does 80, a nd a big number minus fifty leaves a bigger difference than the same number minus 80.

Faffing about with the limit doesn't make offenders easier to detect, of course. For that, you need more testing.

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Re: Lower alcohol limit - good thing?

Postby Mick F » 5 Dec 2014, 4:41pm

thirdcrank wrote:Faffing about with the limit doesn't make offenders easier to detect, of course. For that, you need more testing.
Exactly.

We were driving into Tavistock the other day and were behind a lady in a green Peugeot. It was 09:30 or so. As we drove behind her, we saw her weave this way and that, shy away from the white line suddenly, or even almost mount the grass verge on occasion. We kept well back. :shock:

She could have been drunk, under the influence of drugs, or both, or just plain rubbish at driving .......... or all three.

What should we have done?
Dialled 999?

Where are the police?
Mick F. Cornwall

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Paulatic
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Re: Lower alcohol limit - good thing?

Postby Paulatic » 5 Dec 2014, 5:06pm

Psamathe says
Quote believe it is the "rUK" side that is "wrong" (in that politicians are not listening). If we are different countries fine then lets be different countries and have a proper border. If we are one country then lets have laws such that legal behaviour in one place does not accidentally become illegal behaviour should somebody inadvertently stray a short distance from their intended route.

I'm guessing you live in England? England is one country and Scotland is another. We recently voted to remain in the UK which is a collection of countries. We do have a border you will cross it when cycling LEJOG. Please don't begrudge us our,IMHO, enlightened laws just so we keep in line with England.

AFAIK there has been no mention of a more lenient sentence with the lower limit. No doubt court cases will enlighten us there.
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Re: Lower alcohol limit - good thing?

Postby rualexander » 5 Dec 2014, 6:23pm

Ben@Forest wrote:Today Scotland went down to a maximum of 0.5mg of alcohol per litre in your blood, compared to 0.8mg/l in the rUK for being over the limit when driving. On the radio there seemed to be a certain consensus that this was a 'good thing'; partly because 0.5mg/l is the limit in many other European countries.

However many other European countries do not enforce such stringent penalties as the UK if you are caught drink-driving at the lower end of the scale. For example in France if you are caught with between 0.5 and 0.8mg/l blood you will be only be fined - and it could be as low as 135€ and lose six points on your licence (which is the same as gaining six points on your licence in the UK).

So in Scotland you presumably will still get a minimum 12-month ban and a considerable fine for being at 0.55mg/l although this is not necessarily like the European model at all. And if the Scots did treat 'low' offenders like the French do wouldn't it just start a mindset that not being 'too drunk' isn't really that serious? Personally I'd prefer the bar to be set higher and the penalties to be pretty stiff. A 12 to 18 month ban is far better than a fine.


Your numbers seem to be wrong here.
The new limit in Scotland is 50mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood.