Feature

United Kingdom: Drinking and driving in moderation

A new law that would lower the legal blood-alcohol limit to .05 percent or even .02 percent “would be regarded widely as silly,” and would therefore be flouted, said  Tim Worstall in The Times.

Tim WorstallThe Times

The British are a law-abiding people, but only as long as the laws are not “obviously stupid,” said Tim Worstall. Lowering the legal blood-alcohol level for drivers, as the transportation secretary says he wants to do, would fall into the “stupid” category. Right now, the legal blood-alcohol limit is .08 percent, higher than in most European countries but the same as in most U.S. states. Lord Adonis says he wants to lower it to .05 percent or even .02. That would mean that having the time-honored pint of beer at lunchtime would render a typical office worker too impaired—in the eyes of the law—to commute home hours later.

Such a law “would be regarded widely as silly,” and would therefore be flouted. The result could easily be more, not less, drunken driving, as pub-goers would simply conclude that they may as well be arrested for three or four drinks as for one or two. Britain now has the lowest accident rate in all of the European Union, unless you count Malta, which has hardly any roads. “We aren’t scofflaws because we tend not to have laws at which we scoff. We most certainly do not want to make the drunken-driving laws an object of derision.”

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