On 5 December last year the Scottish government lowered the drink-drive limit, making it lower than anywhere else in the UK.
The standard UK limit of 80mg of alcohol for every 100ml of blood was reduced to just 50mg. Now, however, a Scottish backbench MP is proposing that the limit be reduced still further for drivers of buses and lorries.
The proposal is being put forward by Christian Allard, the North-East MSP for the Scottish National Party.
Under his suggested new rules, lorry and bus drivers would face a lower blood alcohol limit of just 30mg per 100ml.
The proposal is being taken seriously by Scottish ministers, who have said that they will study the MSP’s suggestions carefully.
The change may not be straightforward, however, as it would require that Holyrood obtains special powers from Westminster to pass the new law.
Allard argues that the damage that can be caused by larger vehicles is greater than that of a standard car and can be ‘catastrophic’.
This, he says, means that drivers of such vehicles should be treated differently from normal motorists and should have to meet stricter blood alcohol limits.
He added that drivers of these vehicles should have no excuse for driving with any alcohol in their system and that this added responsibility should be reflected in a stricter law.
The MSP confirmed that he would be writing to Holyrood ministers to ask them to consider his proposals, and he is hopeful that this will result in action being taken in the form of a new law.
A Scottish government spokeswoman has already said that the suggestion is a welcome one and that it will be studied ‘with interest’ by the relevant ministers.
Set own limits
Scotland currently has the power to set its own drink-drive limit but not to vary it between different types of vehicle.
This is where the Holyrood parliament would have to obtain permission from Westminster to make the change.
The spokeswoman said that the Scottish parliament should have the power to make such changes to allow them to introduce varying limits for professional drivers or newly qualified drivers.
So far, the Scottish government’s record in this area appears to be successful. The new 50mg limit introduced on December 5, 2014, looks to have dissuaded many drivers from getting behind the wheel after having a drink.
Indeed, the number of drivers caught driving while over the limit fell by 27% in December when compared with the same period in 2013. The suggestion to lower the limit for drivers of larger vehicles is part of a wider proposal to extend the powers of the Scottish parliament.
These have been brought forward as a result of promises made by Westminster during the Scottish Independence Referendum, now being considered by the Smith Commission on devolution.
Lorry drivers often drive on cross-border routes between Scotland and England and will have to be particularly aware of the different laws in force on both sides of the border.
The lower limit will make drivers more susceptible to a positive reading after having a drink the night before driving.