New Drink Drive Limits In Scotland

By Paul DonnachieDecember 5, 2014

The Scottish Government’s changes to drink drive limits* became law in Scotland on 5th December 2014. The effect on driving in Scotland will change many people’s lifestyles forever.

Amongst those at risk of losing their licences will be drivers from other parts of the UK, where the drink/drive limits are not changing and who do not know about the new reduced limits in Scotland.

In brief, the changes in Scotland from 5th December are as follows –

The blood/alcohol limit is lowered from 80 to 50 milligrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood.

The urine/alcohol limit goes down from 107 to 67 milligrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of urine.

The breath/alcohol limit decreases from 35 to 22 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath.

As an example, if the police stopped you before 5th December and your breath alcohol reading was 33, you would have been close to but still under the former limit (of 35). From 5th December, with the same reading, you will be 1.5 times over the limit. Think about that.

Overall, the various limits are reduced by about 3/8, bringing Scotland in line with France and Germany.

The same new limits apply, incidentally, to people who are not necessarily driving but are in charge of motor vehicles in public places.

Undoubtedly, the police will be particularly vigilant over the Festive Period (including the run-up to it) in trying to catch people who are over the new limits. So, if they stop you for, say, speeding (or driving too slowly) and in the process detect the smell of alcohol, you will be given a roadside breath test. Whilst most people will do the smart thing and take a taxi or use public transport when out celebrating, the sting in the tail is likely to be felt “the morning after”. Many drivers, after a few drinks the night before, will now fail a morning roadside breath test – even though they would not have before 5th December. Failing the roadside breath test will result in arrest there and then and further testing at a police station.

The minimum period of disqualification for drink/driving is one year (rising to a minimum of three years for a second conviction within 10 years). This on top of a hefty fine or even prison. In certain circumstances, the court may even order confiscation of the vehicle.

Beware! Driving licences issued by DVLA apply UK-wide and, so, falling foul of the drink-driving laws in Scotland will result in disqualification for holding or obtaining a driving licence throughout the whole of the UK during the entire length of the ban.

Even though, in certain circumstances, it may be possible to reduce the period of disqualification, it is quite likely that in the weeks after 5th December many drivers will learn a sobering lesson the hard way.

What is a safe limit? The answer has to be ZERO even if you are not going to be driving again until the morning.

So – the message is simple: you need your driving licence – DON’T RISK IT!

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