The Labour Government’s record on drink driving casts doubt on
whether it can be trusted to deal with the endemic alcohol problem

Two and a half years ago the Government declared its intention
to lower the legal limit for drink driving to 50 mgs%. Failing to act
has cost the lives of at least 125 people – the equivalent of FOUR
PADDINGTON tragedies, claims the IAS in its current edition of Alcohol
Alert published today.

This figure is based on the Government’s own conservative estimate that lowering the limit would save around 50 lives a year.

By giving way to pressure from the drinks industry on a matter
which has overwhelming public support, the Prime Minister’s
determination and ability to deal with inappropriate drinking, one of
the major causes of violent crime, must be in serious doubt.

Three years ago the Government promised to deliver a national
alcohol strategy. It has failed to do so and what we have been given is a
plan based on wishful thinking for 24 hours drinking to solve the
problem of public disorder.

This is another illustration of how the drinks industry is setting and directing the Government’s agenda and thinking.

Derek Rutherford says “Attempting to clear up the streets with
policies based on wishful thinking will not alleviate the mayhem caused
by alcohol in the home and in our accident and emergency departments.
Populist headlines about on-the-spot fines for drunken yobs ring hollow
when these are designed solely to serve the purposes of a Government
which rejects any thought of a reduction in per capita alcohol
consumption and is hell-bent on encouraging 24-hour drinking. The
Government cannot pretend to have a coherent alcohol policy until it is
demonstrably no longer in cahoots with the drinks industry.”

Contact: D Rutherford (0)1480 466766 (office)
(0)1480 394778 (home)


A national alcohol strategy should include:

  • Immediate lowering of the limit to 50 mgs with increased powers for the police to breath test drivers for alcohol.
  • Measures to reduce overall alcohol consumption as
    recommended by the European Alcohol Action Plan of the World Health
  • Tackling the presentation of alcohol through advertisements and sports sponsorship.
  • Encouraging delaying the onset of drinking among adolescents.
  • A national awareness campaign on the relationship of drinking and violence as has been done in the Netherlands.
  • Giving local communities the power to tackle the problems
    arising from alcohol abuse by letting them decide drinking hours and the
    number of outlets.