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'Random breath tests' for drivers

BBC | February 27, 2007

Drivers could face random breath tests under government plans to combat drink-driving.

A Department for Transport road safety review said tougher enforcement is the best way of tackling the problem.

The report said it would consult on the move during 2007 and also examine the level of the blood-alcohol limit.

Transport minister Stephen Ladyman said figures showed some "worrying trends" with 17% of road deaths taking place when the driver was over the limit.

Despite a decline in drink-related deaths in 2005, there were still more that year than in 1998 and 1999.

Improved enforcement

Between 1994 and 1998, drink-related deaths fell while the number of tests rose.

But from 1998 until 2003, the number of drink-drive fatalities went up as the number of tests fell.

Mr Ladyman said he had an open mind about introducing random breath tests.

"But if it helps us to improve enforcement and to really crack down on drink-driving then maybe it is something we have got to do," he told ITV1's breakfast programme GMTV.

The Second Review of the government's Road Safety Strategy also noted calls to cut the blood alcohol limit from 80mg to 50mg.

But Mr Ladyman said that the current limit should be enforced properly before worrying about reducing it.

Asked whether there should be a zero-tolerance approach to drink-driving as is the policy in some countries, he said: "I wish every country did have zero tolerance.

"Although we have a slightly higher blood alcohol limit in this country than in most countries, we enforce it more rigorously than most other countries.

"So actually drink-driving in this country is under better control than it is in most countries in Europe."

At present police can only impose breath tests on motorists they suspect are above the limit.

The review will also look at increased roles for licensing authorities, service stations and pub landlords, as well as extending incentive schemes for designated drivers.



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