Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament at 4:21 pm on 25th October 2007.

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Photo of Dave Thompson Dave Thompson Scottish National Party 4:21 pm, 25th October 2007

I am sorry; I do not have much time.

This is not about forcing people to change; it is about making them aware of the facts to allow them to reach their own judgments on the basis of solid medical evidence.

A reduction in the legal drink-driving limit would help to focus people's minds on the dangers of drink. For the past few months, I have been working on a campaign to reduce the legal drink-driving limit from 80mg to 50mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood because I firmly believe that the issue is intrinsically linked to the alcohol debate as a whole.

I decided to pursue the matter after learning that, during a two-week campaign in August, Northern Constabulary caught 28 drivers who were over the limit and after reviewing Scottish Government figures that highlighted the fact that the number of people who are involved in accidents and who have been drinking is 27 per cent higher in the Highlands and Islands than it is in the rest of Scotland. On Scottish roads, one in six road accident deaths are due to drink driving, which equates to around 60 deaths per year. It would be a great step forward if we could save even one of those lives.

Lowering the legal drink-driving limit is by no means a new issue—the European Commission has been pressing for a reduction in the UK limit for the past six years. The UK is now one of only four European Union nations that have a drink-driving limit of 80mg per 100ml. The remaining 23 EU member states have a limit of 50mg or less.

The UK Government has claimed that the issue is under review and that it will debate its findings in the new year. I would like the limit to be reduced throughout the UK, but if Des Browne fails to act on a UK level, I want action to be taken in Scotland. Unfortunately, the signs of a UK solution are not hopeful. The UK Government has had the findings of the UK Parliament's Transport Committee for a year, but the secretary of state still talks about formalising arguments. Frankly, I am not prepared to sit and wait until another life is lost as a result of drink driving. Westminster should either reduce the limit or give us the power to do that in Scotland.

I take the opportunity to build support in the Parliament for a reduction in the legal drink-driving limit. I have lodged a motion that points out the needless loss of life that drink driving causes each year on Scotland's roads and which asks for support for the undeniable case for lowering the limit to 50mg. I hope that I can count on all members' support.