Cases, the not making of

Once again, the spectre of lowering the drink drive limit raises its ugly head. And I’m sure you’ll hear the same worthy causes trotted out, the same talking heads saying it should be lowered, someone saying it’s for the children. But I can tell you two things that won’t be said by the politicians pushing for it.

  1. What the drink drive limit is (or, to their mind) should be in terms we’ll understand. 80mg/100ml of blood is all very well, but what does it mean for fourteen stone of lager drinker? And what does it mean for a svelte lady who likes her half’un of gin? What is it in, say, the unit, which the medical lot have been pushing for years? They’ll not say it because the 80mg/100ml is dependent on so many different factors that it’s going to be a different amount of drink for everybody; short of actually testing yourself, you’d be hard pushed to know if you’re over it or not. Which, to my mind, makes it a badly written law.
  2. How many accidents are attributable to drivers whose driving is demonstrably impaired due to drink, yet are under the drink-drive limit? Because I assume if there was a significant number of such incidents, judges would be bemoaning their lack of powers, police officer would be up in arms, victim’s groups would be exceedingly vocal with details of each incident. But, on those fronts, what do I hear? Silence. I hear lots from people who lost relatives to drivers who were over the limit, and with just cause. And I hear lots from people who suffered at the wheel of irresponsible drivers.
    But I’ve heard sweet fuck all from people saying that there are x accidents, including y fatal accidents, that are directly or indirectly attributable to people who are driving with 60mg/100ml. If the numbers were there, I’d assume they’d be trumpeted from the rooftops to support the idea of lowering the limit, but they’re only conspicuous by their absence. Which suggests, to me, that there isn’t a need to lower it, except to be seen to be caring.

So, what are the odds that, in this particular round, the items above will be addressed? I’m not a betting man, but I’d say it’d be a fools wager…

8 thoughts on “Cases, the not making of

  1. Hmm… afraid ive got to disagree with you there – if you have to drive then dont drink – that would also get rid of the abiguity vis-a-vis the 14 stone larger drinker and the 8 stone g&t drinker – of course if you were over the limit due to medecation you could be in a hazy area but im sure a doctors note would get you off – though if that was case you probably shouldnt be operating heavy machinery anyway! I know this view is probably not popular with people who like a pint at lunch time but at the end of the day if i have to forego a pint in order to drive home later then so does everyone else! :-p

  2. A zero tolerance approach, then? Sounds great in theory*, but what would it actually mean?

    Obviously, driving in the hours after having a bit of a binge is out; having a pint at lunchtime is similarly OK, because the alcohol is well gone from the system within four hours.

    But where would the cut off come in? At what point after a certain amount of alcohol would you be allowed to pick up the keys? An hour per unit, which is entirely arbitrary value thought up by a committee in the 80s? Overnight? Hour per unit + six hours sleep?

    Basically, given that zero is not a constant in this case, I don’t think that zero tolerance can be either.

    Your mileage may vary, do not operate heavy machinery, I’m off to the pub…


    * – Actually, I think it sounds bloody awful, but we’ll set that aside for the moment.

  3. I thought part of the point of a unit was that it was the amount of alcohol your liver good process in an hour. No?

    Zero tolerance is a bad idea because it means that there will be people who, despite having alcohol in their system, would not be sufficiently impaired for it to be dangerous. That amount, obviously, varies. Yes finding a mechanisim to distinguish between those who are or are not dangerously impaired is a difficult problem, but just saying “oh, to hell with it, none of you can drink” is a needlessly obtuse and illiberal response.

  4. so then how would a zero tolerance be a bad idea – another factor in the arbitraryness of the “one unit rule” would be how healthy your liver was? Might not be liberal but im afraid i just have little time for drink drivers – there are enough idiots on the roads without letting them have a drink as well “to steady the nerves” :-p

  5. of course my own reason for being behind a zero tolerance jobbie is because my girlfriend doesnt drink at all so it wouldnt affect me in the grand scheme of things really :-D Go me!

  6. I too have little or no truck with the people who have a quick sip from the hip flask to steady the nerves, and have no reason to love the big drink drivers. But I’m not sure that lowering limits would do anything to deter such people – if they’re not deterred by the existing laws, they won’t be by lower ones.

    What might happen is that more people would be caught on the borderline the next morning, while posing no threat. Which I think everyone who’s ever had a night out on the piss will have been guilty of at one time or another.

  7. and there is the stealth way of encouraging people to drink less on that “night before” – see it is all a huge conspiracy by those health people :-P

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