Legal Information Centre


26 November 2008 by Mary Heaney

Zero tolerance on alcohol for drivers under 21

The government is considering imposing a zero rate of alcohol consumption for drivers under the age of 21.

The government is considering imposing a zero rate of alcohol consumption for drivers under the age of 21.


The proposals are to be set out by the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) in a report next February and will be under consideration by Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary.


In 2005, 1,080 teen drivers were involved in drink-drive accidents and 88 people died in accidents where drivers between 17 and 20 were over the limit.


Motoring solicitors have broadly welcomed the need to tackle drink driving but have warned of the problems of a no-drink policy and of focusing solely on young drivers.


“Although one assumes that focusing on teens’ drink driving problems will prevent long term problems, the attention should, no doubt, spread to all concerned,” says motoring solicitor Simon Corbett-Jarvis (right) of Southampton firm Eric Robinson. “The ‘do as I say, not as I do’ scenario is unlikely to be overtly successful and could inadvertently endorse drink driving for those over 21!”


Corbett-Jarvis also warns of the potential for litigation that arises from a no-drink policy. “Given the relative inaccuracy of the breath meters at very low readings it could give rise to unsafe prosecutions. Perhaps the limit should be lowered in line Europe’s one drink maximum but significantly less could cause problems.”



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