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UK `is ducking drink-drive issue`

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The Government has been accused of "ducking the issue" after proposals to cut the drink-drive limit were dropped.

It had considered lowering the limit from 80 to 50 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood - effectively a total ban on drinking and driving.

Robert Gifford, executive director of the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (PACTS), said many drivers who want to be law abiding accidentally drink too much.

He said: "The 50 limit says you cannot have one drink and get away with it. Once your alcohol level goes above 50mg your risk of involvement in an accident rises significantly."

But road safety minister Jim Fitzpatrick said: "Drivers who are between 50 and 80mg are not the ones we are most worried about. It's the ones above 100."

Other European countries have cut their alcohol limits to either 50mg or 20mg, apart from Ireland, which plans to reduce its limit to 50mg next year.

Liberal Democrat transport spokesman Norman Baker said: "The Government's timidity is putting lives at risk. Britain has the highest drink-drive limit in the EU.

"By ducking this issue the Government is taking responsibility for an additional 65 deaths a year caused by the current drink-drive limit."

© The Press Association 2008