Road safety groups condemn Transport Secretary Chris Grayling for comments on drinking before driving

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling, is under fire for suggesting that it is okay to have "a glass of wine at the pub" before driving, despite a Government commissioned review finding that drinking within the current limit makes drivers 13 times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 9th December 2016, 1:54 pm
Updated Wednesday, 14th December 2016, 12:32 pm
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has been criticised for his comments.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has been criticised for his comments.

A group of 20 Conservative MPs have stated that they are prepared to revolt on this issue and have called for a lower limit.

The alcohol limit for drivers in England and Wales is 80 milligrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood, 35 microgrammes per 100 millilitres of breath or 107 milligrammes per 100 millilitres of urine.

There is universal support for a lower limit from road safety groups such as Brake, the RAC, the RAC foundation, the AA, the Institute of Advanced Motoring, and all three emergency services.

Mr Grayling made the comments in an interview this week, when discussing the national policy on drink-driving. He suggested that the focus should be on those who "flout" the law - not those who have "had a glass of wine at the pub".

Vera Baird QC, chair of the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners, said: “Drink driving is still a big problem, which damages a lot of lives. It causes danger to us all on the roads that simply ought not to be there.

"Chris Grayling should think a bit more before he speaks. A glass of wine depending on its size, what the person has eaten and their alcohol capacity, can put someone right on the edge of the limit which every sensible country regards as dangerous. It is not okay to take the risk of being far less safe on the road.

"It is absolutely best not to drink at all if you are driving. Our current breathalyser limit is 60 years old and is very lenient by international standards.

"Police see people who are beneath this level when tested but clearly should not be on the road. We need the limit reduced and the government to take this issue of public safety seriously.”

The latest British Social Attitudes Survey showed more than three-quarters (77%) of the public are in favour of lowering the drink driving limit. Scotland lowered its limit to 50 milligrammes in December 2014. Police figures revealed a 12.5% decrease in drink-drive offences for the first nine months.

The majority of other European countries also have a 50 milligrammes limit.

Gary Rae, campaigns director for Brake, the road safety charity, added: “It is worrying that the man in overall charge of road safety appears to suggest that it’s okay to drink and drive.

"His remarks would be unacceptable at any time, but coming just before the Christmas festivities, makes them all the more irresponsible.

"It’s the wrong message, at the wrong time. Those who drink and drive up to our current limit are 13 times more likely to have a fatal crash than someone who is sober. 77% of the public want a lower limit as do the road safety community; Chris Grayling is clearly out of touch on this issue, and should choose his words far more carefully.”