North Review of Drink & Drug Driving Law

AA recommendations accepted

16 June 2010

Commenting on the North Review of the Drink and Drug Driving Laws, Edmund King, AA President, said: "The Automobile Association has long been highlighting the hidden problems of drugs and driving so we are delighted that these issues are being addressed.

"We are pleased that Sir Peter has followed our verbal and written recommendations on many of these issues and made use of our AA/Populus panel results to ascertain the views of the motoring public.

"Our members want action on drug driving and also support a reduction in the drink drive limit together with a 12 month ban."

Drink driving accounts for some 430 deaths per year and if better records were kept we estimate that an extra 215 deaths may be due to drug driving or a combination of drugs and alcohol. Hence a quarter of all road deaths are caused by drink or drug driving so it is essential that further action is taken.

The AA believes that more focus needs to be given to the problems of drug driving.

We are pleased that Sir Peter has made positive recommendations on screening devices, a clarification of the law and a call for coroners to test for the presence of drugs in road fatalities.

We would like to thank Sir Peter and his team for their work on these important subjects.

AA Recommendations

The following recommendations were proposed by the AA and are included in the North report recommendations.

Drink Driving

  • Lowering of drink drive limit to 50mg/100ml
  • Review 20mg limit for new drivers after 5 years
  • Maintain a 12 month ban at 50mg
  • Target cars of high risk offenders
  • Deployment of portable evidential breath testing equipment
  • Higher policing priority
  • 79% AA members support random breath tests

Drug Driving

  • Coroners should test for drugs in all fatalities
  • Volunatray roadside saliva tests
  • Greater use of Field Impairment tests (FIT) and training
  • Drug driving to be made an 'offence brought to justice'
  • Speed up the process with use of nurses rather than forensic physicians
  • Look to type approval of police station drug screening kits
  • Look to a specific offence of driving with certain controlled drugs at levels deemed impairing
  • Better NHS training and clearer labelling On legal drugs

Information about the Review and its terms of reference can be found on the North Review website.

AA/Populus Panel findings



There are regular calls for a lowering of the drink drive limit. Do you support or oppose such calls?

66% support and 20% oppose

Strongly support 49% 66% support
Somewhat support 17%  
Neither support nor oppose 12%  
Somewhat oppose 8%  
Strongly oppose 12% 20% oppose
Don't know 1%  

(The sample size for that poll (in April/May 2008) was 17481)

Do you think the police should have greater powers to stop drivers to test if they are impaired or over the limit (eg random testing)?

Seventy-nine per cent of the respondents to the AA/Populus survey were in favour of the police being able to breathalyse a driver at any time. Only 16 per cent were opposed.

The current blood-alcohol limit for drivers is 80 mg in 100 ml. Those caught driving with alcohol levels above this limit are banned from driving for 12 months. If the limit was reduced to 50 mg in 100 ml of blood, should there be ...?

A lower disqualification period of 6 months 17%
The same disqualification period of 12 months 49%
A higher disqualification period of more than 12 months 15%
No disqualification, but penalty points instead 13%
Don't know 6%

(There were 20129 respondents)

Would you be in favour of a policy that would see the immediate suspension of a person's driving licence where that person fails a breath test?

Of the 20129 respondents 13909 (68 per cent) answered 'yes', 4203 (21 per cent) answered 'no' and 2251 (12 per cent) 'don't know'. As is fairly common in this sort of question, support was highest in Scotland and lowest in London.


The AA/Populus panel was unanimous in agreeing that a driver should be prosecuted if there are traces of illegal drugs in his/her body AND is visibly impaired by the drug.

The idea that prosecution should occur if there was any trace of a drug was supported by 72 per cent – even if there was no visible impairment.

Join the discussion in the AA zone


16 June 2010