Drink-driving deaths in the UK have flatlined since 2010, yet England and Wales still have one of the highest legal limits in the world.

Things must change – it's time the government took action.

A coalition of road safety charities, emergency services and health groups have made fresh calls for MPs to reduce the drink-driving limit in England and Wales.

We at the Institute of Alcohol Studies have produced a two-minute animation to support this campaign, which outlines the key arguments (script available here):

The call comes after statistics show no progress has been made on drink-driving since 2010, with 240 deaths and more than 8,000 casualties reported each year.

England and Wales have one of the highest drink drive limits in the world. Set at 80mg alcohol per 100ml blood, it is greater than the rest of Europe (with the exception of Malta) and Commonwealth countries such as Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. The Government of Malta announced plans to lower the drink drive limit to 50mg this month in a new National Alcohol Policy to reduce harm.

In the UK, Scotland lowered its limit to 50mg in December 2014, and police figures showed a 12.5% decrease in drink drive offences in the first nine months. Northern Ireland is set to lower its drink-driving limit before the end of 2016.

Do you know what drink-driving is like in your area?

Please follow this link to view / download a breakdown of drink drive statistics by postcode.


Drink driving costs £800million each year and the majority (60%) of those killed or injured are people other than the driver. Research shows that lowering the legal limit in England and Wales to 50mg – matching the rest of the UK – would save a minimum of 25 lives each year.

Organisations that support a lower limit include the RAC Foundation, BRAKE, the Police Federation, Fire Brigade Union, Royal College of Emergency Medicine and the AA (see foot of page). The latest British Social Attitudes Survey showed more than three-quarters (77%) of the public are in favour of the move.


Katherine Brown, Director at the Institute of Alcohol Studies, said:

“Recent decades have seen great improvements in road safety, but progress on drink-driving has ground to a halt. With hundreds of lives lost each year, we can’t afford to let England and Wales fall behind our neighbours in road safety standards.

“It’s time the government looked at the evidence and what other countries are doing to save lives and make roads safer. We need to make drink-driving a thing of the past, and to do this we need a lower drink drive limit.”

Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said:

“Policy in this area hasn’t moved for half a century, but in the face of mounting evidence it increasingly falls on opponents of a limit reduction to defend the status quo, rather than asking those who support a cut to keep making their case.”

Make your voice heard. Write to your local MP using our template letter to call for a lower drink-driving limit.


Click here to view our two-page briefing, 'Lowering the drink-driving limit in England and Wales'.